What Does Holden's Hat Symbolize

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In The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Salinger, Holden Caulfield recounts his experience in New York City after his expulsion from his third school. Holden, the central character of the novel, describes all characters he meets descriptively, yet he never provides an explanation of his motives. Luckily, Holden’s personality is reflected through the various symbols throughout the novel. J.D Salinger uses symbolism to create an intimate connection to Holden’s unique emotions in an ever changing society. To begin, we first gain insight of Holden’s character through his odd taste in choice. While in New York City, Holden purchases a red hunting hat, implied to be highly unattractive. Yet, the hat appeals to him so much that when he first saw it he “…lost all the goddam foils” (Salinger p.17). Although he loves his hat, he is ashamed of wearing his hat in front of his friends and family as he believes he will look like a fool. Holden is a unique, however he lacks the confidence to express himself, as demonstrated by Holden’s statement, “I took my old hunting hat out of my pocket while I walked, and put it on. I knew I wouldn’t meet anybody that knew me…” (122). The author utilizes the red hat as…show more content…
Holden is a caring character, as seen through his great liking of Robert Burn’s poem, “Comin thro’ the Rye”. Holden tells Phoebe that he wants to “catch everybody if they start going off the cliff” (173). Holden wants to be a savior of innocence for children, as he wants to protect them from the ugliness of the world. This is exemplified by his anger towards vulgarity written in the school walls. He states that he could imagine how, “…some dirty kid would tell them-all cockeyed, naturally, what it meant, and how they’d all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days.” (201). The various symbols reveal Holden’s true identity, one of a compassionate young man worried about the well being of
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