Symbolic Meanings From the Novel

The Catcher in the Rye is one novel that is very deep regarding symbolism. From the cover to the very characters in the book, the writer expresses a sense of explanatory structure that is elaborate and clear.

The name of the book

It is the first most noticeable symbol in the novel. Holden sees himself wearing a giant appendage ready to hold his children as they fall off a cliff while playing in the rye. The kids in this case also are symbolic because they represent the aspect of childhood. Additionally, the field in which they are portrayed at representing the innocence that engulfs them so far. To add to this imagery and symbolism, the fall from the cliff also represents virtuousness. As a parent, Holden tries to shield his children from ever growing up because of the situations they will face in the future. This attempt to protect his children is clearly detailed in the novel.

The Museum of Natural History

Holden’s nature revolves around keeping everything intact removing any aspect of change that might come up. This static belief is showcased by the presence of the Museum which is well known to keeping things the same.

Ducks in Central Park

Holden was very much devastated by the loss of Allie and the memories he had created. As Holden wonders where those ducks go during the harsh weather of winter, he starts to comprehend the harsh experiences that a person has as life goes on. These ducks helped him understand the pain of having to change from something that one is used to and cherish memories knowing that at times it is okay to be lonely and sad.

Holden’s hat and ring

As Holden is showcased to having such a caring heart for his kids, he wants to show that he can still be independent as a person himself. He has a personal conflict with his need for companionship and isolation at the same time. The color of the hat to shows his link between himself and the kids so far. This indicates that he always has their best interests at heart to the point that everything in his life tends to revolve around them. Holden’s ring represents the maturity that he has acquired with the added responsibilities. It also supports his quest of trying to be independent in everything that he does.

“Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that is one plays by the rules.”

The quote was given by Holden’s former teacher as he was criticizing the manner in which he was playing by the “rules of the game of life.” It signifies a resonance to the very nature of Holden of having a keen counter-culture knowledge and pride that he got on his shoulder. Additionally, the quote reveals that Holden has the traits of anguish and self-hatred that made him have petite socialization with people. Holden comes from a more privileged background and wants to have the best what the individuals he views as absurd.

The carousel

In the novel, Harold is portrayed to having a life that has traversed all areas because of the anguish and happiness that he has been shown to have. As he continues to grow, Holden is cumbered with the different responsibilities So as the horses in the carousel go round and round, so does the life of Holden so far.

The rain

The flow of rain is symbolic showing the transition that Holden experienced as he said goodbyes to Allies. Additionally, the rain also shows how Holden is moved from being a youth to being an adult that has numerous responsibilities. As Holden is proved to stand in the rain, it depicts his resistance to letting go of the things that are pulling his emotions down.

There are other symbols present in the book such as the swans and the clouds which represent the Phoebe and maturity respectively. As the bird is moving away from Holden’s sight, so does Phoebe depart his life. Additionally, the death of Phoebe was purposed by the author to show the difficulty in letting go and revealing the problem characters face trying to adapt to change as Holden does.

  1. Cliff
  2. Horse
  3. Suitcase
  4. Yellow
  5. Central Park
  6. Ducks


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February 15, 2017

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