Allie's Baseball Mitt

Who is Allie, what does his glove symbolize, and why does Holden keep it in The Catcher in the Rye?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Holden writes an essay about Allie's glove for his roommate,  Stradlater is furious with him.  Why does he write about the glove?  The assignment was to describe an object or a room, and  Holden writes about an object that is important to HIM with little regard as to whether or not Stradlater will appreciate it.  In fact, he probably knows that Stradlater will NOT.  This choice prepares the reader for several things:  1) Holden is "different" or at the very least, he feels "different" than others his age.  2)  Allie is a very important person to Holden and he probably has not grieved sufficiently for hi.  He "needs" to write about the glove.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The death of Allie has shaken Holden to his very soul.  With his brother's passing, Holden loses faith in adults and in his own future.  He becomes hopeless and helpless, feeling like nothing matters anymore.

Next to his red hunting hat, the baseball mitt is a source of comfort for Holden.  Holding that baseball glove allows Holden to return to the field of rye where he feels that childhood still remains, where Allie is still alive and where Holden believes that his life was much easier.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Allie is Holden's younger brother who died of leukemia. Allie's death, along with some other factors, has caused Holden to slip into his depressive state.

Holden enjoys Allie's baseball mitt because it reminds him of Allie. It's unique and reflects Allie's personality and intelligence. It has poems written all over it, because Allie would become bored playing in the out field. Jane is the only other person Holden has shown the mitt to. Holden then goes on to write Stradlater's descriptive essay about Allie's mitt.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Figuratively, Allie's glove is a symbol for Holden's emotional expression.  He keeps it hidden, it is precious and holds his heart.  Allie's glove has poetry written on it. When Holden has to write a composition for Stradlater's homework, he looks to Allie's glove for inspiration.  Allie's glove is Holden's connection to his feelings, which he reserves for a very few, Allie being one and Phoebe, his little sister, being the other. 

It is connected to the story, because at the heart of the story is Holden's grief over his brother's death. Holden needs help dealing with this grief.  He must take out the glove, literally and confront his pain and acknowledge his feelings in order to release himself from the terrible guilt and loss that he feels. 

Holden does not understand why Allie who was much smarter than him died.  He feels guilty that he, who lives because he is not sick like Allie was, is inferior and stupid. So it is the central emotion that dominates Holden's journey throughout the book.   

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Holden keeps Allie's baseball glove because it is a reminder the kind of person his brother was: intelligent, friendly, and inventive. The glove has poems written all over it because Allie wanted something to read when he was in the outfield. Holden wrote Stradlater's essay on the glove and then tore the essay up when Stradlater did not appreciate the gesture. By writing about Allie's glove, the reader sees Holden's sensitive side. At this point in the novel (ch 5), Holden's memories of Allie are the only things he enjoys and we realize that his brother's death has had a major impact on Holden's life. Throughout the novel, Holden talks to Allie, as if he is there, and at one point even asks Allie not to let him "disappear." Holden depends upon his brother and the glove is his tangible reminder of him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial