Symbols in The Catcher in the Rye Justin Caleb Walters College

Throughout J.D. Salinger’s most popular work of literature, The Catcher in the Rye, the reader is exposed to several aspects of importance that assist offer substance and characterization to the lead character of the story, young Holden Caulfield. It is through these assorted signs that Holden changes from an average teenager to a socially disrupted and confused individual, continuously longing for something more. Holden’s gray hair, the ducks from the lagoon in Central Park, and Holden’s departed younger sibling Allie all help identify Salinger’s sixteen years of age knight on his quest to find his real self in a world filled with incorrect facades and misleading intentions.

One of the first symbols to appear in the novel is Holden’s gray hair. Holden describes himself by saying, “… I’m 6 foot 2 and a half and have gray hair. I actually do. The one side of my head-the best side-is full of millions of gray hairs. I’ve had them ever since I was a kid.” (Salinger, 9). The look of these unprejudiced hairs at such an early age is a fantastic representation of Holden’s inner struggles. For a long period of time, he has actually been caught in between two apparently conflicting worlds: the carefree world of youth and the challenging and intimidating world of the adult years. This battle finally emerges in a physical sense with the appearance of the gray hairs. Being the sixteen year old that he is, Holden feels typical teenage emotions and longs to be able to make choices on his own. When confronted with adult circumstances that might potentially have alarming repercussions, such as the episode with Maurice and Sunny in the hotel room, Holden closes down and cries, just like a kid. In essence, though, he still is a child, so the reaction is rather expected. These two conflicting forces within Holden’s mind trigger a lot of concerns throughout the progression of the novel.

Another symbol that plays a common role in characterizing Holden is the ducks that frequent the lagoon in Central Park. “Do you happen to understand where they [the ducks] go in the winter, by any chance?” (81) Holden asks his cab driver, to no obtain; the driver becomes angered by Holden’s apparently useless and idiotic interrogation. These ducks, however, represent 2 elements of Holden’s character. From one perspective, the ducks are representative of Holden’s yearning to leave from the concerns he faces every day, both in a physical sense (his uncomfortable appearance, negotiations with others, and so on) and a mental sense (his clashing and contradicting mental viewpoints, psychosocial issues, etc.). He feels that if he could fly away like the ducks in winter, the issues would vanish and he could be free and pleased. From another viewpoint, the ducks signify a means of constancy for Holden. Though they fly away in winter, they constantly return in the springtime. This cycle is predetermined and long lasting; it always has actually been, and it always will be. Holden longs for this reassuring and soothing sensation of a never ever ending regular. To be so passionate about being a teenager, exhibited by his usage of profane language, tobacco usage, and thirst for alcohol, Holden truly is somewhat scared of the real world. He wishes everything would remain the exact same permanently, but that is regretfully difficult.

Possibly the most revealing and enticing symbol in the book that impacts Holden’s personality is the death of his more youthful brother, Allie Caulfield. Holden held a deep love and appreciation for his younger and apparently more smart sibling. He speaks very highly of Allie: “He was 2 years younger than I was, however he had to do with fifty times as smart.” (38 ). He also comments on Allie’s generous and considerate attitude by saying that Allie “was also the nicest, in a lot of methods.” (38 ). As the novel plays out, it becomes clear that Allie himself ends up being an allegory for childhood innocence. Upon Allie’s death, Holden seems to lose his sense of innocence. He is never ever really provided the chance to grieve or grieve for the death of his brother. He is forced to deal with the scenario as an adult would, not as a kid. Due to the fact that of this, Holden is tossed into the world of adult sensations and emotions when he is only thirteen years old. This is probably the reason he has such a good deal of psychological issues as a sixteen year old. He feels that given that he has actually already been required to serve as an adult, he must continue to act this way. The fact that he winds up in a mental organization at the end of the book is a clear indication that Holden’s mindset is certainly puzzled and contrary to what it must be.

Holden makes a somewhat extensive statement in Chapter 2: “Individuals never discover anything.” (9 ). It is simple to observe, however, that several aspects of The Catcher in the Rye play essential roles in Holden Caulfield’s individual development. These signs relay specific messages to the reader that provide deep insight into Holden’s frame of mind as a conflicted sixteen year old young boy caught in between the differing worlds of childhood and adulthood.

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