The Red Hunting Hat By Holden Salinger Essay

1481 Words Oct 30th, 2015 6 Pages
“It’s a people shooting hat”: Motif in The Catcher in the Rye

A hat can do many things. It can cover. It can protect. It hides your hair. It keeps one warm, especially in cold weather. It is a symbol of expression. It is rebellious, if worn backwards. This functional object, in the world of Holden’s search for maturity, too acts in many distinct and figurative ways. When Holden Caulfield muses that his red hunting hat is more than just a hunting hat, it is actually a “people shooting hat”, the character himself attaches meaning to the object. It is symbolic to him and to us the reader. Throughout this work, Holden uses the hat in the ways any common person would, but it is how and why he uses the hat that is vital to understanding the character and the whole text. In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger uses the red hunting hat as a motif, a recurring image/object to suggest Holden’s struggle to cover up his past and his search for the future.

To truly understand how the motif functions in the text, we must look at its everyday function and how Salinger creates meaning from it.

It covers. But what does it cover? First, it covers Holden’s hair, which is “gray” with “one side of [his] head…full of millions of gray hair” (9). The hat here conceals Holden’s appearance of age or maturity. Holden claims he has had “them ever since [he] was a kid” and that people mistake him for being older. Holden, who says he “acts like [he’s] only thirteen”, desires to remain…

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