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Symbolism In The Red Hunting Hat

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Oscar Wilde said : “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.” In his book, The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger expresses this quote through the adolescent life of Holden Caulfield. The novel begins with the narrator being kicked out of his private high school for failing all of his classes but one. Leaving campus, he heads to New York City; which ironically is the city of dreams. J.D. Salinger uses symbolism in the form of a hat to represent the notion of individuality. Holden’s journey with the hat emphasizes Salinger’s theme that when morals and beliefs are different from those around them, the individual will struggle to operate within the society. In the beginning, Holden had received a lot of criticism about the red hunting hat. While undergoing an attack from his acquaintance Ackley, Holden made it evident that he was quite fond of the accessory : “That’s a deer shooting hat.’ ‘Like hell it is.’”(Salinger 22). By rejecting this fashion advice, he is ignoring the opinions that try to modify him. The placement of this judgement sets a pathway for the reader to learn about the narrator’s unique and headstrong personality. If he is not willing to be open to…show more content…
While hanging out with his little sister Phoebe, Holden appears to be more relaxed; having a person that has grown up with you makes it easier to feel a sense of belonging. However, Holden still maintains the belief that he has to leave. Wanting to protect Phoebe, he gives her the one thing that he has remained constant with, the hat. Instead of keeping it for her own journey, Phoebe throws it back at Holden once she discovers he is departing from her life again : “All she did was, she took off my red hunting hat-the one I gave her-and practically chucked it in my face. It nearly killed me, but I didn’t say anything.” (Salinger 207). It is fitting here that the hat is given back to Holden because he is the one in the family that stands
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