Catcher In The Rye Symbolism Essay

1001 words - 4 pages

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a roller coaster ride through the mind of an angry, frustrated and confused teenager named Holden Caulfield. After getting expelled from Pencey, Holden takes a trip to New York City where Holden keeps asking the cab drivers where all the ducks in the lagoon near the Central Park South go in the winter. This lagoon and the animals in it are constantly are used by J.D. Salinger to show Holden's rejection for adulthood.Holden's curiosity about the ducks in Central Park relates to his own adulthood insecurities. Just as the ducks face the hard times of winter, Holden is at the peak of his teen-aged years, just about to go on to the hard times of adulthood. Holden asks the taxi driver about the ducks: "I mean does someone come around in a truck or something and take them away, or do they fly away by themselves-go south or something"(82). Holden's questions of what the ducks do in the winter foreshadow Holden's own plans. Holden wants to know if they either fly away to the south to escape the coldness and the hardships of winter like the way Holden wants to move to the west to get away from the phonies and escape the hardships of adulthood. Or if they are dependent on a parental figure such as the truck that comes to their rescue and takes them away similar to the way Holden wants to stay a child and dependent. Also the idea that the ducks are saved by a truck suggests Holden wanting to be the Catcher in the Rye, saving children from the hardship of adulthood. The ducks, in whatever way, avoid the coldness and hardships of winter and are nowhere to be found during this time. This symbolizes Holden wanting to avoid adulthood and go away to some place where he won't have to face the problems of being an adult.Holden's interpretation of adulthood is symbolically criticized as his conversation with the taxi cab driver takes a turn and the fish that live in the lagoon is brought up. When Holden asks the taxi driver where the fish go when winter comes and the pond becomes a solid block of ice, he responds: "They live right in the goddamn ice. It's their nature, for Chrissake. They get frozen right in one position for the whole winter"(82). This symbolizes a person becoming an adult in the perspective of a person from the world of experience. During spring and summer, the fishes swim around the pond. This is similar to child who is allowed play and has a lot of freedom. But as fall and winter comes around and the pond begins to freeze, and the fishes lose more and more space to swim around in, similar to the way that a child loses more and more of his freedom as he grows up. From the perspective of a person from the world of experience such as the taxi driver, it is the fish's "nature" to live...

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