Giving himself alternative names prevents the potential threat of society, keeping his red hunting hat with him protects him from society, and describing society as a bunch of phonies gives him a reason to separate himself from society. All these reasons represent Holden and the different ways that he finds to distance himself. Holden pays attention to the smallest details, which makes him critique society and the details about it. It all adds up to Holden being a misanthrope, while only liking the company of his siblings, who give him what society does
Throughout the majority of the Catcher in the Rye J.D Salinger employs several different symbols that define Holden's personality. One particular object that set him apart from everyone else was his red hunting hat. It is brought up on several different occasions in the book and is often described as an article that reminds him of his brother Allie and sister Phoebe. Salinger furthermore develops the red hunting hat into a symbol by referring to it several times as Holden's own form of uniqueness, aiding in the theme of “ protection of the innocence” and the resistance of maturity.
The worry of what happens to the ducks makes him question where they go. “‘Hey, listen,’ I said. ‘You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?’ I realized it was only one chance in a million. He turned around and looked at me like I was a madman. ‘What’re ya tryna do, bud?’ he said. ‘Kid me?’ ‘No - I was just interested, that’s all,’” (78-79). The curiosity of the ducks in the frozen water shows his fear of death, Holden is worried that they have died. Holden wonders if someone comes to help the ducks. “‘the lagoon. That little lake, like, there. Where the ducks are. You know.’ ‘Yeah, what about it?’ ‘Well, you know the ducks that swim around in it? In the springtime and all? Do you happen to know where they go in the wintertime, by any chance?’... I mean does somebody come around in a truck or something and take them away,” (107). Holden’s concern for how the ducks survive through the winter, if someone helps them, reveals his fear of being alone. In comparison to the ducks he also needs to be taken care of. The ducks in the Central Park lagoon symbolize Holden’s fear of death and being alone and that he also needs to be taken care
Holden hangs on to the red hunter hat. The red hunter hat represents innocence, which is a way of Holden bonding with Allie and Phoebe and maintaining innocence. Holden asked about the pond and the ducks that lived in New York twice. He was bothered by their absence, Holden is in some way obsessed with mortality. Also, the idea of the museum changing bothers him. Evolving is a part of life. Yet, Holden doesn't want to accept that. He refers to an Eskimo that fishes through a hole in the ice. The same Eskimo was there when Holden was a child and will continue to be there for Phoebe when she visits. Holden would like for our lives to be like that too. "Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone." He wish we could be frozen in time. He would love to have spent more time with Allie and continue to make more memories with Phoebe.
He has trouble growing up and accepting life as it is. Holden thinks adults are "phony" which makes him hate the fact of growing up and staying innocent as much as he can while he is old enough to become an adult. He is frustrated with the world and people which makes him act with anger. His innocent childish dream is to be the Catcher in the Rye, to catch the kids before they become phonies like Holden says about adults. The moment he realizes that he cannot keep kids from falling or in other words, from growing up and becoming adults, he, reaches adulthood, and takes a big step towards it at the end of the novel. The ending chapter of the novel Holden finds the loss of innocence he’s been searching for. When Phoebe is riding the carousel and she reaches for the ring, it represents maturing. Phoebe is a symbol for youth and innocence, and she is reaching for maturity.
He sees himself as the useless member of the family, and states that he’s “the only dumb one in the family” (67). The most heartbreaking cause of Holden’s loneliness is the death of his young brother, Allie, to leukemia. The brothers’ connection is shown through the symbol of Allie’s red hair, which Holden could have a “hunch” for even if Allie was sitting “a hundred and fifty yards” away (38). The cut of a bond this deep devastates Holden. Unfortunately, because of his inactive parents, he deals with it through anger and isolation that is symbolized by the red hunting hat he wears. When the hat is pulled to the front, he cannot “see a goddam thing” and says he’s “going blind” (21). The pain from Allie’s death pushes Holden to seclude himself from a world he sees as cold and ominous. More importantly, it prevents him from looking at his own mind and realizing Allie is the reason he is lonely. As if losing own brother wasn’t enough, Holden also loses the presence of his older brother D.B.. The conflict begins when he leaves Holden by moving to Hollywood, and Holden says D.B. will only “maybe” drive him home after his therapy ends (1). Besides his physical absence, D.B. lost Holden’s respect by leaving
Allie, Holden 's younger brother who dies as just a child, is a major symbol throughout the story, which represents the innocence in childhood that Holden strives to save. Allie’s death creates a lot of turbulence in Holden’s life especially because Holden looks up to Allie as a role model. When Holden remembers incidents from his past involving Allie, his attitude changes, such as when he writes the composition about Allie 's baseball glove or when Holden breaks his hand after punching all of the windows after Allie dies. This change in attitude is basically going from happiness to upright anger because the one person that Holden likes, dies and there is nothing he can do to bring him back. Allie makes Holden a better person, and when
Holden believes it's his“body and all that’s in the cemetery, and his soul’s in Heaven” (172) suggesting Holden believes there might be a better place for his soul after death. Holden seems to be content with the idea that his soul may rest after death allowing Holden a chance to breathe after being suffocated by conformity. On the other hand the one thing Holden seems to fear is that when it rains his body would get all wet. Since his body would be buried, and he would be dead, Holden would have no way to escape the rain. All in all, the fact that Holden would be trapped in the cemetery scares him just as much as how he is afraid of the suffocation of his society which is why he considers
There are three occurrences where Holden brings up the idea of where the ducks go when the lake freezes over in the winter. The first time he brings it up, Holden is at Mr.Spencer’s house and they are talking about Holden leaving Pencey because of his poor grades: “I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away” (Salinger 16). Holden does not ask this question out loud, but rather to himself. During this time, he is going through the problem of being expelled from yet another school. The icy, frozen over pond is how he sees his life at the moment, cold and hard. This may be the start of his depression. He’s at a road block, his life has fallen apart and he does not know what to
When the school is captivated watching the football game at the field, Holden refuses to mix with the rest of the student body and instead chooses to watch it from “...way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill.” When in New York, Holden visits a lagoon in Central Park, which is mostly frozen over. He also ponders whether the ducks will be at the lagoon during winter. Holden “walked around the whole damn lake” (Salinger, 200) and to his detriment, “…didn’t see a single duck.” (Salinger, 200). The lagoon itself is symbolic of Holden’s longing for an eternal childhood, the frozen state representing a lack of change. The ducks represent the rest of society which Holden fails to assimilate with. Another symbol of this is the Museum of Natural History which Holden enjoys visiting, for similar reasons as the lake. He enjoyed going to the museum because “Nobody’d move.” and “nobody’d be different”. Holden visits this museum twice throughout the novel. The first time he walks through Central Park to the museum, but becomes too scared to enter, fearing something has
In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger portrays a fascinating juvenile misfit character extensively named Holden Caulfield. Holden goes to school at the age of sixteen and is said to be a misfit in society. However, even though society is corrupt in some ways, Holden Caulfield is a misfit no matter if people say he is misunderstood in the eyes of society.
In his essay, “ Love and Death in The Catcher in the Rye” (1991), Peter Shaw claimed that Holden behavior and way of thinking is due to common abnormal behavior in a certain time for teenagers (par. 10). Shaw supported his assertion of the young Holden by comparing the literary culture of the 1950s and how Holden’s fictional character fits within the contemporary Americans novels as a, “ sensitive, psychological cripples but superior character” (par. 3). Shaw’s purpose was to show that Holden’s sensitive and psychological behavior is not abnormal, but such like stated by Mrs. Trilling that,” madness is a normal, even a better then normal way of life” (par 4). Peter Shaw’s tone assumed a highly educated audience who is
In this excerpt from the beginning of the novel called The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the main character, Holden Caulfield speaks to his psychologist about his deceased younger brother. Salinger includes this quote from Holden in order to offer the reader some understanding of his actions and attitude throughout the book, and it also enforces the thought that Holden is a character struggling with teen grief, misunderstood by his parents and the peers around him. In this quote, he seems to be lost in thought of the detail of his younger brother's baseball mitt, even remembering the "green ink" (Salinger) that was used on it. Because of this, readers can infer that Holden has spent much time with this mitt and that such an object has a great amount of sentimental value to him because it was a possession of a person that he cared greatly about. However, despite his pain, Holden does not allow himself to process his grief properly; he instead puts up a sort of facade of passiveness towards the death of younger brother. For example, Holden does this when he nonchalantly says, "He's dead now... You'd have liked him" (Salinger). This passage shows a side of
In the beginning of the story, when Holden goes to see Mr. Spencer before he leaves, Mr. Spencer tells him that, "Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules." (Ch. 2, p. 5) Although Holden completely disagrees with Mr. Spencer, this quote remains true to struggle he faces during the rest of the book, especially so when he looks for the ducks in the lagoon, in order to study how they know to leave the lagoon when winter comes. “I thought maybe if there were any around, they might be asleep or something... But I couldn't find any.” (Ch. 20, p. 83) To anyone else, it is obvious a duck would not stay at a semi-frozen lagoon, in the middle the night, because of the sheer cold because that is just a rule of nature. Holden, however, has no clue to what the rules are, as revealed when he suggests that maybe, “some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something.” (ch. 2, p. 22) To field means to send out a player into a game. But a person can not play a game without knowing the instructions. Holden does not know the rules to life, so he is constantly struggling with questions that most people do not even think about. This is why Holden tries to find out how the ducks know how to leave for the winter. To Holden, the ducks seems instructional-less, yet they still know when to leave, or at least more-so