Catcher In The Rye Symbolism Analysis

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In the Catcher in the Rye, the author J.D. Salinger uses a variety of symbols to represent the struggles and challenges the main characters and narrator Holden Caulfield faces throughout the novel. Through the use of symbolism, Salinger is able to give additional meaning to the plot beyond what is being described by Holden. Through Holden 's desire to be a catcher in the rye, his goal of protecting the innocence of children is conveyed, but the golden rings on the carousel represents his realization that this is an unrealistic goal and also unfair to the children. Holden’s reaction to the profanity he sees on the walls at Phoebe’s school and at the museum also represents his desire to protect the innocence of children. The symbol of the …show more content…
When Phoebe asks him what careers interests him, he responds, “I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody 's around - nobody big, I mean except me. And I 'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff” (Salinger 173). The cliff represents corruption and when the children try to jump off, they are attempting to enter into adulthood, but Holden does not want the children to grow up. At the end of the novel, while Phoebe is on the carousel, Holden watches as “all the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddam horse, [...] The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them” (211). The gold rings represent Holden becoming a more mature individual in that he is able to understand that his childish dream is wrong because children should be able to grow up …show more content…
When Holden is in Phoebe’s school dropping off a note for her, he sees that "somebody 's written "F--- you" on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy" (201). And when he thinks about whom might have written this, he immediately assumes that it is some "perverted bum" (201). Holden’s obsession with the pureness and innocence of children, prevents him from realizing that it was probably a student that wrote the profanity on the wall. Later, while he is in the tomb of the museum he sees profanity on the wall again and recognizes that "you can 't ever find a place that 's nice and peaceful, because there isn 't any" (204). Holden begins to grasp that no matter what, corruption will always exist in the world and "trying to rub out all the 'f--- you ' signs in the world" is impossible (204). Instead of pursuing his dream of being a catcher in the rye and saving all the children of the world, he can mentor a few younger children, such Phoebe and the boys at the museum, and act as a good big brother and role model to

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