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Looking for a symbol in The Catcher in the Rye.I have to do a summer assignment, and I...

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Looking for a symbol in The Catcher in the Rye.

I have to do a summer assignment, and I need just a few more details on a symbol. I have most of the essay written, including the plot, the theme, and character analysis. Can you pleaseeeee help me with the symbol?
The question says to analyze one symbol in the book. Then explain how the object is developed as a symbol, the significance of the symbol and it's contribution to the novel's message.

I was thinking about doing the Ducks in Central Park or the hat.

The pond is "mostly frozen" but its also wet, so is that a symbol for Holden's personality? The ducks are symbol of something that is always changing like his mood?

The symbol part really killed on the topic. Can you please help me?


Do you think it is better to write about the hat? (Can you pls give me a few details?)

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cetaylorplfd's profile pic

Posted (Answer #1)

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One of the symbols in the novel The Catcher in the Rye is near the end:  the carousel in the park.  Holden goes home to see his sister Phoebe and he takes her to Central Park.  While there, Phoebe rides a horse on the carousel while Holden watches her from a park bench.  As he is watching his little sister, Holden thinks about childhood and fact that kids have to be allowed to take risks.  He is happy that Phoebe is not afraid to take risks and that she remains enthusiastic about life.  The carousel is a symbol for childhood innocence, which throughout the novel, is something for which Holden searches. 

billdelaney's profile pic

Posted (Answer #2)

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The carousel would probably be the best, as suggested by the answer above. The ducks would be among the worst because they would be hardest to construe as symbols--and besides that, they are never seen. The red hunting hat is a made-to-order symbol because Salinger obviously intended it to be a symbol. A symbol of what? It symbolizes that Holden is still a kid. It also symbolizes that he is "hunting" for something. What is he hunting for in Manhattan? When he gives the hat to his little sister, it is as if he is giving up his childhood and becoming an adult. A parallel example (sometimes seen in movies) is when a young girl gives away her favorite doll or stuffed animal. Holden couldn't be carrying anything around with him that would symbolize immaturity, so a hat was an excellent and plausible symbol.

Holden's fantasy about being a catcher in the rye is also a symbol, but it comes up only briefly towards the end of the book when he is talking to his little sister. And it is not really a tangible thing, like the carousel or the deerstalker hat.


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