Symbolism in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye Essay

2842 Words 12 Pages
Many novels cannot be fully understood and appreciated if only read for face value, and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is no exception. The abundant use of symbolism in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is of such significance that it “proclaims itself in the very title of the novel” (Trowbridge par. 1). If the symbolism in this novel is studied closely, there should be no astonishment in learning that The Catcher in the Rye took approximately ten years to write and was originally twice its present length. J.D. Salinger uses copious amounts of symbolism in his novel to accurately convey the feelings of his main character, Holden, and, in essence, to reveal information pertaining to human sentiment. Many of these symbols contain …show more content…
The ducks are first brought to the reader’s attention while Holden is visiting his teacher, Mr. Spencer, regarding his removal from Pencey. While conversing with Mr. Spencer, however, Holden’s mind drifts elsewhere. His mind drifts back to New York as he wonders to himself if the lagoon in Central Park is frozen over, and if so, where do the ducks go? A direct parallel can be drawn from the ducks in the lagoon to Holden’s present situation. He is mandated to leave Pencey, but has no idea where he belongs after leaving. Just like the ducks in the lagoon, “Holden is essentially homeless, frozen out” (Trowbridge par. 1). Holden’s life has not been filled with an abundance of stability and now what little he had is gone, albeit due to faults of his own, and he sees an unsure and hazy future. Holden inquires about the state of the ducks to the driver of the first cab he catches in New York, and the driver believes that he is kidding. Later on, he asks another cab driver if somebody came around “in a truck or something to take them away” or if they flew away “by themselves” (Salinger 81-82). Knowing what happens to these ducks, knowing that they are safe and secure even though the lagoon is frozen would provide Holden with a sense of comfort about his current state of affairs. What seems to be a ridiculous and meaningless question to the
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