The Catcher in the Rye is filled with many examples of symbolism. This adds a sense that there is something deeper and more mysterious going on inside Holden Caulfield that is not directly shown in the book. One example of symbolism used in the Catcher in the Rye is Holdens red hunting cap. While on his trip to new york for a fencing tournament Holden bought a red hunting cap with flaps that goes over the ears for one dollar. Holden often mentions this hat and wears it throughout most of the book. Though this hat seems to be an unimportant aspect of the story, it actually gives us an insight on one of holden’s fears. By wearing the red hunting hat holden feels unique from everyone else, and that if he wears the hat he will always be different then the people that he calls phonies.
Another example of symbolism is Allie’s baseball glove. Allie was Holdens younger brother, who died of leukemia. The glove had different pieces of poetry written on the outside of it.
This glove could represent the emotions that Holden feels for his brother. It could also represent the point in his life where he began to act out and break off his emotions for people ( which could be why he keeps it secret) . But it Holden could also see the glove as inspiration, like when he was writing stradlater’s composition. When stradlater asked Holden to write a composition describing something Holden choose Allie’s baseball glove, and since he was so passionate about the gove he was able to easily write the composition.The ducks in the Central park lagoon could also be symbolic.
In some parts in the book ( mainly when he arrives in New York ) he begins to ask questions about what happens to the ducks in the winter time when the pond freezes over. This could resemble Holden’s child like behavior and his young sense of curiosity and eagerness to find out things. But the ducks and the pond could also represent Holden on a more personal level.
The reason Holden is so interested in what happens to these ducks could be that he his afraid of change. Holden has expressed numerous times that he likes it when things stay the same, so the fact that these ducks leave when the water freezes could be astonishing to Holden. Another example of symbolism could be the museum of natural history. While in New York Holden stops by the museum where his school used to take him. He admires and talks about the displays. One thing he says about the displays is that they never change, especially the indian exhibit. He also states the fact that every time someone returns to the museum they are different than last time, (this not only means physically such as growing taller or getting a new haircut, it also mean mentally such as you come back more mature or more unstable), but no matter what the museum always stay the same no matter what happens.
This could represent a perfect world for Holden. Holden does not like change and to him a perfect world might be a world where everything stays the exact same, where he does not have to communicate with other people, and where he never has to worry about anyone leaving or changing.Pencey prep could also be an example of symbolism. Pencey prep represents a place thats full of phonies and liars. So to Holden pencey prep is like a version of hell. In the book he comments on how Pencey prep has a statue of a guy on a horse, that seems to be going on a mission. In the book Holden talks about how hes never even seen a horse on campus. This adds to the effect that Pencey is full of lies and is overrated.