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The Catcher In The Rye - Symbolism

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Introduction

´╗┐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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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