Catcher In The Rye Symbolism Essay

1129 Words 5 Pages
Many novels are unable to be appreciated and understood if they do not hold a deeper meaning within their context. An example is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger which is a famous bildungsroman novel set around the 1950s. It is narrated by a young boy named Holden Caulfield who flunks out of school and goes on a journey in New York City to figure himself out and to learn to come to terms with his transition from innocent childhood into phony adulthood. In this novel, J.D. Salinger’s use of symbolism expresses the emotions and desires of Holden Caulfield which relate to the overall message of the story that he is afraid of transitioning into adulthood. There are many symbols relating to Holden’s relationships that clearly show his fear …show more content…
One example is the Museum of Natural History. The museum represents Holden’s desire to freeze time and keep everything the same. It makes him wish he could live in a simple world where nothing ever changes. He claims that “the best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was” (157) and he gets “very happy when [he thinks] about it” (155). Holden’s biggest fear is change and he misses being a child because those were his happiest times. He is also not ready for the responsibility that comes with becoming an adult. He can barely take care of himself on his own and this is very evident throughout the entire novel. Another prominent symbol is the title of the novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Holden says that he pictures himself wearing Allie’s mitt, ready to catch kids as they fall off a cliff playing in the rye. The kids represent childhood, the field represents innocence, and the fall from the cliff represents fall from innocence. Holden wants to be “the catcher in the rye and all” (225). He wants to be able to shelter kids from growing up and he also wants to shelter himself in order to avoid the harshness of adult life. He is afraid of becoming a “phony.” Lastly, the graffiti at the school is another symbol. It represents Holden’s inefficiency to prevent the loss of innocence in others as well as himself. When he went to drop a note off for Phoebe at school and saw profanity written on the walls, he claimed that “it drove [him] damn near crazy. [He] thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant… they’d all think about it and maybe even worry about it…” (269). Holden is realizing that he cannot protect himself or others from the trials of adulthood and he must learn how to come to terms with the responsibilities of

Related Documents