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Holden's Crisis With Adolescence in The Catcher in the Rye Essay

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“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” - Martin Luther King Jr. Symbols are not defined by words, but by the way one feels toward it. The emotional connection between a symbol and a person can only be showed through the heart and soul. In the Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger uses symbolism to show Holdens contradictory personality and his crisis with adolescences.
Holden wants answers to questions that cannot have a straight solution because there could be a variety of answers. In chapter 9, Holden is on his way to his hotel and ask the cab driver, “You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park? That little lake? Do you know where the ducks go when it’s all frozen over?” The cab driver thinks Holden is crazy for asking this question, but this is not just a question; the ducks in the lagoon represents two different symbols. First is that the ducks can represent Allie, while the winter represents the afterlife. Holden is asking what happens to Allie now that his dead? Where does he go and what happens to his soul? Secondly, according to http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/catcher/themes.html, the pond is in two separate states, partly frozen and frozen, just as Holden is in transition between childhood and adulthood; showing that he wants to know what is going to happen to him, how will his life change if he decides to mature.
Holden is keeping his anger about the death of Allie under his red hunter’s hat. According to http://www.slashdoc.com/documents/54270, they believe the hat is significant because Holden is hunting for the...


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Holden contradictory personality is the effect of his crisis with adolescence. Holden lost his brother, his best friend as a child and this affected him ways that cannot be explained. At www.psyking.net/id183.htm, G. Stanler Hall writes, “The qualities of goodness and virtue are never so pure, but never again does temptation preoccupy the adolescents thinking.” As a result of losing his best friend, Holden shut himself out of society, and uses these symbols to stay close to the few things that he holds close to his heart. He doesn’t let anyone in out of fear of losing them, when really he is trying to protect himself from transitioning into an adult. He wants to do the same for other children that he claims will turn into phonies at adulthood if he doesn’t become a catcher in a rye. Holden uses these symbols as a way to preserve his childhood.



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