Catcher in the Rye Symbolism

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Like many novels written The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger is laced with powerful symbols. Symbolism is important in a novel because it is used to provide deeper meaning to the writing. The plot and action in a story can be thought of on one level, but the symbolism is used to bring the overall novel to a new level and to enhance the story. Salinger uses certain symbols such as the red hunting hat, the museum, the carousel, and the catcher in the rye to support his story. Each symbol supports a main theme in the novel. The main themes in The Catcher in the Rye are isolation, innocence and mortality. Each symbol is used to support more than one theme in the novel. Each symbol brings deeper meaning to the novel. If not for the symbols The Catcher in the Rye would just be the ramblings of a teenager in New York City.
The Catcher in the Rye is Salinger’s most widely known work. It was published in 1951 and follows the protagonist Holden Caulfield through New York City. Holden had just been expelled from yet another prep school and decided to leave a few days early. The novel recounts the days following Holden’s expulsion. He spent three days in New York until he is able to return home. Throughout the days Holden spent in New York, he had a difficult time finding himself and figuring out how to live life.

“Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game… I remember around three o’clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill… You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place… You could hear them all yelling (4-5). Throughout the novel Holden is constantly isolating himself from the rest of society. Whether Holden is intentionally trying t...

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...g or at the very least postponing death to Holden. This is important because nothing ever change in the museum. It’s like time stands still in there “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was” (157). Holden’s constant reminders of mortality drive his need to keep things the way they are.
For Holden life is hard, but he’s figuring it out. The Catcher in the Rye follows Holden through his three days in New York following his expulsion. In the novel strong symbols support the main themes. The symbols are important because they help enhance the plot and action in the story. In the novel the themes of mortality, innocence and isolation are supported by symbols. Holden’s red hunting hat, the museum, and the carousel are some of the symbols used to support these themes. Some symbols are used to support more than one theme.
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