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Holden's Red Hunting Hat as a Symbol in J.D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'

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Holden’s red hunting hat is one of the main symbols in the book, The Catcher in the Rye. The hat represents individuality and uniqueness. It symbolizes the confidence, self esteem, and comfort in who someone is. Holden is only willing to express himself when he is alone, with no one around. He looks for approval. Holden does not want to be seen negatively in any way. The hat is a symbol that Holden uses to tell Phoebe that she should always stay the same. Also, to tell her that she should be confident in whom she is, but, as Holden knows, Confidence and self-esteem can be easily broken. In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger uses Holden’s red hunting hat to symbolize Holden’s uniqueness and a sense security and comfort. Holden feels more…show more content…
He is happy he is wearing it be is afraid of what others will think of him. This uncertainty makes him self-conscious. Salinger writes, “... I took my red hunting hat out of my pocket and put it on-I didn’t give a damn how I looked. I even put the earlaps down” (88). This quote is showing how Holden second-guesses himself not only once, but twice. He wants to be accepted for who he is but is scared of what people will think. He is afraid of the negative. Salinger writes, “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). He is confident that no one will be seeing so he is okay with being himself. He is afraid that someone might see him, but is confident that no one will, so he feels secure. He feels that he can only express himself when he is alone. Holden’s red hat represents his individuality and his interactions with it and Phoebe show how he no longer wants it. Salinger writes, “Then I took my hunting hat out of my coat pocket and gave it to her” (180). This quote not only shows how Holden no longer wants to be different but how he really want to give his sister the chance to be unique and express herself. He has given up on trying to be himself, even by when he is alone. Salinger writes, “The reason I saw her, she had my crazy hunting hat on-you could see that hat about ten miles away” (205). Holden is saying that being unique makes him stand out, but unlike how
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