Symbolism in the Catcher in the Rye

Symbolism in Catcher in the Rye

      J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye has long been hailed as one of the best coming of age stories in American literature. It follows a teenage boy, Holden Caulfield, who gets expelled from prep school, and finds himself alone in the phony adult world. Holden’s disillusionment with the world and the people in it present him with a constant struggle between growing up and remaining a child. This struggle is illustrated by the various objects and ambitions that surround Holden and play the role of symbols. A symbol, by definition, is “something used for or regarded as representing something else” (   The constant utilization of symbols throughout Catcher in the Rye serves the purpose of communicating the struggle between wanting to grow up and be a source of salvation for others, and wanting to remain an innocent, protected child unscathed by the reality of the world.
      One of the most prominent symbols in the book is Holden’s red hunting hat. The hat symbolizes the connection to childhood that Holden is trying so hard not to loose. The red color of the hat serves as a connection to Holden’s younger siblings, Allie and Phoebe, who both have red hair. Both Allie and Phoebe represent to Holden the innocence of childhood. Phoebe, being the surviving younger sibling, represents the innocence that Holden feels he needs to protect as it is only a matter of time before she grows up and enters the phony adult world. Allie, who died several years prior, represents someone who has never had to loose his childhood innocence and who will remain a child indefinitely. Holden wears his hunting hat when he wishes to be perceived as a child, like his younger siblings. He prefers to wear it backwards even though he admits it is “very corny” (Salinger 17). This also serves as a connection to his deceased brother who was a baseball player and the catcher in a baseball game typically wears his hat backwards. A baseball game is...