Allie's Baseball Mitt

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

In The Catcher in the Rye, Allie was Holden's brother. He died tragically young of leukemia three years before the book begins. Holden loved Allie and has been haunted by his death ever since. That love is symbolized by Allie's baseball glove, which Holden carries around with him.

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In The Catcher in the Rye, Allie was Holden Caulfield's brother. He died tragically young of leukemia three years before the action of the book begins. Holden loved Allie dearly and has been haunted by his death ever since. The normally caustic Holden, so quick to insult others, only has kind words for his departed brother; according to him, Allie was the smartest of the Caulfields.

Holden shows his love for Allie by carrying around his old baseball glove with him. The mitt was a very precious object to Allie; he used to write poems on it in green ink. He did this so he would have something to read whenever he was fielding and got bored during a game.

Carrying around what has become for him almost a sacred relic allows Holden to feel close to his brother, to feel in some sense that he's never really gone away. The baseball glove has become not just a symbol of Allie but of the deep love that the normally cynical Holden still feels towards him.

That the glove means so much to Holden is illustrated by the fact that he's never shown it to anyone outside the family other than Jane Gallagher. Just like the late, lamented Allie, she's a unique individual too.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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