Regarding Catcher in the Rye, what is the difference between a motif, theme and symbol?I've asked and been given difference answers. I've been told that the ducks in the park is a symbol and also a...

Regarding Catcher in the Rye, what is the difference between a motif, theme and symbol?

I've asked and been given difference answers. I've been told that the ducks in the park is a symbol and also a motif. I'm slightly confused as to which is more accurate. Please include examples from Catcher :)

Asked on by angelajin

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

The theme is the overall main idea of a literary work. What is the author's message? The answer is the theme. The reader must determine the theme while reading. What is the author saying? Why did he or she write the piece of literature? The answer to these questions is the theme.

The theme is the overall idea or lesson the author is trying to teach. Motif is a smaller idea that is represented through an object or abstract idea that is recurring. One way to differentiate between theme and motif is to think about the overall lesson the author is trying to teach. A motif would be fate that is as a thread throughout the story.

A symbol does not necessarily represent one object. It may represent an idea. The American Flag is a symbol that represents freedom, valor, unity, etc. All of these representations are ideas.

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