Symbols in The Catcher in the Rye

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Symbols in The Catcher in the Rye In The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger many symbols are used to show a deeper meaning for the people, objects and places Holden Caulfield comes in contact with during the story. Holden is often unable to connect to or make relationships with other people, and his encounters usually end with him alone and feeling insecure. Holden deals with these insecurities by looking for the phoniness in others. But his failures are something that he cannot truly run from, no matter how often he tries. Holden sees the innocence of childhood and dreams of protecting that innocence by being a catcher in the rye. But sooner or later Holden will realize that eventually children grow up. In The Catcher in the Rye…show more content…
I saw it in the window of this sports store when we got out of the subway, just after I noticed I’d lost all the goddam foils” (17). Almost right after buying the hat and losing the foils Holden uses it to hide from his mistakes. Holden’s hunting hat makes him unique from others, making him, in a sense, separated from other people. He is also insecure about his hat and won’t really wear it around some people. Holden shows this when he says, “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). Holden likes being different, but he also desires to be like others. He enjoys trying to connect with other people, but every encounter seems to go poorly for him. The red hunting hat connects to the novel as a whole because it symbolizes Holden’s inner struggle for both companionship and isolation. In the Catcher in the Rye these symbols represent problems that Holden faces throughout the novel. Scarred by his brother’s death, Holden has always found comfort in the purity of children. Even Holden’s hunting hat is red, like the color of Phoebe and Allie’s hair. Holden has developed this image that children are innocent and pure, and he is disturbed by the fact that they cannot remain that way forever. When he saw the swear words on the school wall, he never thought of the possibility that one of the students could have written them there .
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