Rhiannon, Shay & Fiona Symbolism Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Definition of Symbol • A symbol is defined as: • objects, characters, figures, and coloursused to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
What are some of the most important symbols in the novel? • Some of the most important symbols in the story include… • Holden’s red hunting hat • The Museum of Natural History • The Ducks in Central Park Lagoon • The title “Catcher in the Rye”
What is the significance of these symbols? • HUNTING HAT • The hunting hat represents uniqueness and individuality. • Demonstrates Holden’s desire to be different than everyone else. • Also demonstrates Holden’s need for companionship and isolation. • His hat is also red; the same colour as Allie and Phoebe’s hair. This could perhaps be Holden’s way of longing for innocence and purity, just like his siblings. • THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY • The museum is important to Holden because it doesn’tchange. • Symbolizes his insecurities and psychological fear of change, and evolution to himself and his surroundings. • Represents his perfect world, where he wants to live his life. Everything is infinite, never changes, always secure.
Continued... • DUCKS IN CENTRAL PARK LAGOON • Reveals a more youthful and innocent side to his complex character • Symbolize joy and simplicity of the world’s mysteries. • The inhospitable environment the duck live in, resonates with Holden as he reflects on his own situation in life. • The pond is in transitions from two different states. Just like how Holden is in transition between childhood and adulthood. • * OCCURING THEME… • The event of Allie dying, causes the majority of the story’s themes, Holden’s non-understanding of his brother’s death.
Continued... • THE TITLE “CATCHER IN THE RYE” • Comes from a song Holden heard when he passed a kid walking down the street. • He imagines a field of rye on a cliff, full of children playing. He would protect the children from ever falling off by “catching” them if they are close to falling. • He thinks of the lyric “If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye,” but the actual lyric is “If a body meet a body, coming through the rye.” • Symbolizes his hidden compassionate nature towards children. They remind him of his brother Allie and sister Phoebe. Throughout the story he sees the innocence escape from the younger generation.
Visual representation • http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WSq-WQgKnyE
How are his preoccupations with these symbols helpful in understanding his character? • His preoccupations help us understand the complexity of his character. • All of these themes relate back to Allie Caulfield’s death. Although Holden is a teenager and should have more understanding of the situation, his immaturity creates a barrier between him and his emotions. • His lack of compassion and ability to process grief, renders his mind into a sort “shut down” state. • Anything that challenges his security or his routine in life, is seen as a threat. • The last challenge he had to face, was Allie’s death. Readers can sympathize to Holden’s lack of ability to process emotions and thoughts, because of the pain he feels when his memories resurface.