What type of literary devices are used in "The Catcher in the Rye" and what makes them effective?
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The first literary device Salinger uses in "Catcher in the Rye" is allusion. Allusion is a reference to a previous literary work or historical event. In this case, the title of the book is an allusion to a Robert Burns poem and the line, "If a body meet a body comin' through the rye. " Holden changes the words to "If a body catch a body comin' though the rye. Eventually the meaning of this line is revealed as Holden's dream of being a 'catcher in the rye" who can save children from the disillusionment of growing up. This reveals one of the major themes of the novel. The technique the author uses for narrating the book is called "stream of consciousness." What we read is not a straightforward chronology of events but a retelling of the events in the order Holden's meandering mind remembers them. This allows the author to reveal how childish Holden is at times and his unwillingness to grow up even though Holden is unaware of this himself. The book is also full of symbolism.One of the main symbols is Holden's red hunting hat which symbolizes Holden's isolation from other people and his search for something, besides Phoebe, which is meaningful in his life. Ducks are a symbol for the homeless condition of Holden. They are evicted by the cold and Holden is "evicted" by the coldness of his family. All of the symbols point to the theme of an insecure young man desperately fighting maturity and the disillusionment that often comes with it.
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