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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger
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What are some symbols (items) that make a person different and unique from everyone else--like Holden's red hat?

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Holden uses many symbols to show that he is stuck in the past or wishes he were dead:

Things Frozen in Time

1. Allie's red hair & the broken window in the garage

2. Allie’s grave (doesn’t like visiting because of the rain)

3. Museum of Art: never changes

4. Eskimo is mummified forever

5. Frozen pond in Central Park

6. Fish trapped underneath

7. Ducks forced to be moved elsewhere

8. Essay about Egyptians (mummies) written for Old Spencer

Child-like Things

1. Jane keeping her kings in the back row (checkers)

2. “Catcher in the Rye”: rescue kids from falling

3. “F#@K”: tries to erase it

4. Elmer Fudd-like hunting hat; red like Allie’s bright red hair

5. Allie’s glove with the poems written all over

6. “Little Shirley Beans” – record he buys Phoebe

7. Carrousel – Holden watches it go round and round (never progresses)

8. Ducks in the lagoon: wants someone to rescue them

Violent Things

1.  Cannon on top of Thomson Hill

2.  Red Hunting Hat

3.  Blood after Maurice, Stradlater beat him up

4.  James Castle (J.C. symbol of Jesus Christ) - his dead body after he committed suicide by jumping out of a window

5.  Allusion to Mercutio's dead body (stabbed to death by Tybalt)


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ROBERT ACKLEY.  Holden's "disgusting" dorm mate is acne-ridden with "mossy" teeth and sores which he constantly picks.
PHOEBE CAULFIELD.  Holden's redheaded sister's organizational skills are her trademark, with neat, labeled notebooks for every subject and use.
LILLIAN SIMMONS.  D. B.'s former girlfriend is known for her "big knockers."
MR. SPENCER.  Holden's history teacher is remembered for his pale skin and old body, visible under his open bathrobe and pajamas.
WARD STRADLATER.  Holden's roommate is known for his slick good looks (though he is secretly a slob).
THE NUNS.  The two nuns that Holden befriends carry a wicker basket collection.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team