• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Catcher In The Rye - Symbolism

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐The Catcher in the Rye Analytical Essay Tom Borland 10M 14-8-2012 1. ?Holden doesn?t refuse to grow up so much as he agonises the state of being grown up.? According to most analyses, The Catcher in the Rye is a bildungsroman, a novel about a young character?s growth into maturity. While it is appropriate to discuss the novel in such terms, Holden Caulfield is an unusual protagonist for a bildungsroman because his central goal is to refuse the process of ?growing up? itself. Holden Caulfield is, simply put, a troubled and unreliable character. He has been expelled from four schools; he has complete apathy toward his future; he is unable to connect with other people; but most of all ? due to the death of his brother Allie and the suicide of one of his schoolmates ? he has a great distaste for society in general, and often expresses his wish for things to ??never change.? It is in Holden?s fatal belief in a world where ??nothing changes,? that his refusal to grow up stems from. Holden says ?Certain things they should stay the way they are. ...read more.


His created understandings of childhood and adulthood allow Holden to cut himself off from the world. However, as the book progresses, Holden?s experiences, particularly his encounters with Mr. Antolini and Phoebe, reveal the shallowness of his conceptions. Holden?s curiosity regarding the ducks in Central Park is another event which symbolises his fear and refusal of change. Holden?s concern as to where the ducks go during the winter reveals a more authentic side to his character. This is such an important event in the novel as Holden does not show curiosity similar to this, in any other aspect of his life. The ducks and their pond are symbolic in several ways. Their mysterious perseverance in the face of an inhospitable environment resonates with Holden?s understanding of his own situation. In addition, the ducks prove that some vanishings are only temporary. Traumatised by his brother Allie?s death, Holden is terrified by the idea of change and disappearance. The ducks vanish every winter, but they return every spring, thus symbolising change that isn?t permanent, but cyclical. Finally, the pond itself becomes a minor metaphor for the world as Holden sees it because it is, to quote Holden, ??partly frozen and partly not frozen.? The pond is in transition between two states, just as Holden is in transition between childhood and adulthood. ...read more.


At this point, Holden finally accepts that children have to do this, and adults must let them. This is an indication he no longer believes that he must be their protector. The gold ring is a game played on carousels where you are supposed to reach for the gold ring as it passes you on your horse. Usually, if you grabbed it, you received a free ride. When Holden concludes that you have to just let a kid reach, even though they might get hurt doing so, he might be admitting that growing up is in fact necessary ? for Phoebe and for himself ? and that you can't really protect a kid from it, so it's better to just accept it as it is. Holden may or may not have progressed enough, learned enough, and matured enough at the sanatorium to be successful in the future ? that we will never know ? and Salinger does not give the reader a definitive ?happy? ending, which, in my opinion, is for the better. But, as Holden says in the final chapter, ??I mean how do you know what you?re going to do till you do it?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level J.D. Salinger section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level J.D. Salinger essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Why is symbolism in the Catcher in the Rye so important?

    4 star(s)

    Symbolism is also used by Salinger to show the narrow mindedness and materialism of the American society in the 1950's. Society at that time was very conservative and denounced anyone who was different, as 'un-American' or 'communist sympathisers'. Salinger uses Holden's red hat (red is the colour of communism)

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss the view that in "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" and "Catcher in ...

    4 star(s)

    This could affect Ruby's reliability as a narrator as information is unconsciously withheld. We only see Gillian through Ruby's eyes, and her unreliability may account for Gillian coming off the worst when in reality this may not have been the case.

  1. Peer reviewed

    'Holden's quest is an impossible one; it is a quest for the preservation of ...

    4 star(s)

    to the point that he responds with violence, provoking a fight with Stradlater shortly after he returns. Holden, protector of innocence, reacts in this way because he sees Stradlater as one of its many destroyers. Sex, in Holden's mind, is also clearly associated with adult callousness.

  2. Why does Holden fear adulthood?

    Holden knows adulthood comes with responsibilities, control over himself, and thinks it comes with phoniness, he doesn't see the wisdom or knowledge it brings. He has become very close minded to adulthood, when we don't know about things we become afraid.

  1. a letter to holden caulfield

    my school issues and seeking her "honest" advice, whenever we happen to catch up with each other. By the way, she's two years younger to me and we relate to each other very well in terms of our issues in life.

  2. Relationships with Holden in "The Catcher in the Rye"

    She refuses to talk to Holden which makes him feel like a failure. He has believed all along that Phoebe will understand what no one else seems to and that Phoebe will accept him for what he is.

  1. The Catcher in the Rye - Symbolism of ducks.

    This means that he thinks about whether they are dependent or independent. Therefore he tries to find out if he himself now has to be dependent or independent. The ducks also represent being an adult, in contrast to the fish who represent the childhood.

  2. Theme in The Catcher in the Rye.

    He wants life to remain frozen like the display cases in the museum. ... 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-I mean if they're running and they don't look where

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work