Similarly, Holden’s inability to adapt to hostile surroundings hinders him from ascending into adulthood. He escapes all situation he is not familiar with and makes an excuse to leave. It is clear to the reader when Holden begins to ask the second cab driver about the ducks, “‘...the fish is different. I’m talking about the ducks.’... ‘They live right in the goddam ice… the got their pores open the whole time’”
While Holden Caulfield is wondering around New York City, he asks many people what happens to the ducks when the pond freezes. The repetition of this question symbolizes what Holden is truly asking for himself. He isn't trying to find out what will happen to the ducks, he is really finding out about himself by using the ducks symbolically. He wants to know what will happen to him when the weather gets brutally cold. He is pondering on whether or not to go home, which he is deftly afraid of doing, or stay outside and freeze.
Allies mitt helps Holden bring back all the old memories of his younger brother, Allie. Holden compares himself to the ducks because he feels like he will isolate away from society just like the ducks do during the winter time. Thus, the ducks, Allie’s mitt and the red hunting hat relates to the theme, belonging and isolation.
The symbols are so important and their symbolism is directly related to the major themes of the novel. Allie, Holden's young brother who died several years earlier, was a major symbol throughout the story. When Holden remembers incidents from his past involving Allie, his attitude changes, such as when he writes the composition about Allie's baseball glove or when Holden broke his hand after punching all of the windows after Allie died. "I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it". (39) He feels that Allie was one of the few people who were not phony in a world full of phonies.
In order to hold on to his brother and to minimize the pain of his loss, Holden brings Allie's baseball mitt along with him where ever he goes. The mitt has additional meaning and significance for Holden because Allie had written poetry, which Holden reads, from the baseball mitt. Towards the end of the book, Holden proves again that he can’t cope with death. Phoebe, his younger sister, is putting him on the spot by asking him what he likes, but Holden can only think of two nuns and a boy, James W. Castle. James W. Castle was a boy who Holden had lent his sweater to, Castle died unfortunately by being thrown out of a window wearing Holden’s sweater.
Holden is constantly getting kicked out of different schools, “They kicked me out… on account that… I was not applying myself and all.” (pg. 3) Not only was Holden not applying himself at school slowing down the process of him growing up, he also kept his mindset young by wondering where the ducks go in winter. “You know those ducks on that lagoon… do you happen to know where they go… when it gets frozen over?” (pg. 54) Holden has a close connection to the ducks as to him it is a change that isn’t permanent as they leave in the Winter and come back in the spring, he asks where they go to see if he can make this un-permanent connection to changes such as growing up in his own life. Holden would love to live in a world where everything is time is practically frozen and nothing ... ... middle of paper ... ...tionship and further shapes his character into a state of self-isolation as he will even push his closest family out of his life.
While Holden is wandering around New York City, he asks many people about what happens to the ducks in the pond when it freezes. I think this really symbolizes Holden. He isn’t really wondering about the ducks, he is wondering about himself. He wants to know what will happen to him when the weather gets really cold. He wants to know if he will have to go home, because he is really afraid to.
Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger uses symbols to give meaning to Holden’s journey through New York City and explain the inner turmoil that drives his mental collapse. For example, Salinger uses the Holden’s preoccupation with the ducks to exemplify his resistance to adapting, especially to his imminent adulthood. Throughout the novel, he asks several people throughout the book where the ducks in Central Park go during the winter. None of them are sure, and this increases Holden’s feeling of panic.
Unfortunately the cab driver doesn’t truly comprehend Holden’s question and is unable to provide an adequate explanation for him. One final illustration of Holden’s misconception of death is evident in Chapter 12, on pages 81-82. In this instance Holden once again poses the question of what happens to the ducks in the lake in Central Park during the winter. This driver, Horowitz, responds much more climactically than the anonymous driver in Chapter 9. , and he provides a ardent series of remarks. Horowitz changes the subject of the conversation from ducks to fish, because he can cope with them.
The book, all narrated by Holden in first person, in its very unique and humorous style, is about Holden, and all the troubles he has encountered through school, family, friends, and basically life. Holden has been expelled from a private school in Pennsylvania because of failing four classes, and decides to go to New York for three days before going home to his disappointed parents. At the beginning of the novel, Holden seems to be like any other 16-year-old young man. But the novel progressively displays through various examples of symbolism that Holden has many problems coping with the world around him. These symbols represent Salinger's ideas and concepts.