In the novel The Catcher in the rye, the author J.D. Salinger uses many symbols to show many themes hidden throughout the story. The Catcher in the rye which was published in 1951 is narrated by the main character Holden Caulfield. In the novel, Caulfield tells us about his 3 days after being kicked out of Pencey Prep. One of the main topics Salinger shows us in this novel is the painfulness of growing up. He tries to get us to understand that kids should not have to loose their innocence, honesty and simplicity of childhood to grow up and become an adult whose life is filled with sin, vulgarity, confusion and complexity by using many symbolical objects in the novel. Some symbols that reveal growing up is painful are the duck pond, the museum, and Caulfield wanting to become the catcher in the rye.
The first symbol is the duck pond in central park which symbolizes growing up can get kids stuck between ...view middle of the document...
The second symbol is how he talks about the museum of natural history. It symbolizes how Holden wants his life to be which is not changing. Salinger uses the museum to show us that some people would much rather live in a world where nothing changes rather than living somewhere where everything changes. “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move.” “Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you (121).” Him liking that nothing changed there relates to growing up because he wants to also help kids stay the same. He wants to help them from turning into “phony adults”. This shows us how Holden’s fear of change in himself and others.
The last symbol is Holden wanting to be the catcher in the rye. Holden wants to save kids from growing up by catching them before they fall down the field. The field symbolizes childhood and the cliff stand for falling into adulthood. “What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff.” “That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all (173).” Holden wants to help kids from going through the pain many have gone through which is growing up. Growing up for Holden has been hard, so he wants to help others from going through what he went through.
Through these and many more symbols, Salinger wants us to know that turning into an adult shouldn’t involve having to loose one’s innocence and simplicity of a child. He uses the duck pond for us to know that many people are stuck between childhood and adulthood while others know where to go. The museum symbolizes how sometimes we don’t like change. Holden wanting to catch the kids in the rye symbolizes that turning from a child to an adult is a painful downfall that some people want to stop. Salinger uses symbolism in the novel to help us understand the themes, topics and characters better, and to make us think more in depth about the world including ourselves and others.