≫ Holden’s Attempt to Grasp Comfort: The Catcher in the Rye Symbols Free Essay Sample on Samploon.com (2023)

Throughout the western world, symbols are an apparatus that is paramount to a functioning society. Symbols dictate directions, information and often enable individuals to attach their innermost sentiments to a tangible object. Thus, throughout society, symbols allow humankind to accomplish daily tasks and experience emotions in relation to conflicts. Throughout the context of the novel, The Catcher In The Rye, written by J. D. Salinger, it is apparent that symbols are an integral component in displaying Holden Caulfield’s pessimistic mindset. Holden is an impulsive individual, who fails to thoroughly consider his actions before executing them, and as a result, Holden encounters various obstacles due to his hasty demeanour. In attempts to relieve the discomfort, Holden relies on the childhood memories of his deceased and beloved brother, Allie. Thus, Holden Caulfield, the protagonist whom frequently views himself as a worthless individual, attempts to grasp a state of comfort in the midst of the problematic events, through his hunting hat, Allie’s baseball glove and the museum located in his hometown.

In the novel, The Catcher In The Rye, Holden exemplifies an isolated and secluded adolescent as he was expelled from various schools and ultimately displays no interest in pursuing a productive and beneficial lifestyle, due to the reality that Holden is unstable as he is immensely affected by the passing of his brother. Thus, Holden uses his red hunting hat as a matter to seize the secure, lively, careless and imaginative childhood he had once experienced with his brother, Allie. The red hunting hat purchased in New York, by Holden, supplies him with a reliable sense of protection to hinder his insecurities from reality in the midst of the chaos he is experiencing. At the beginning of the novel, it is apparent that Holden’s hat symbolizes his desire to be secluded. As Holden states, “I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around to the front, then pulled it way down over my eyes. That way, I couldn’t see a goddam thing” (Salinger 21). Essentially, Holden resembles his desperate longing to escape reality and feel a sense of security in his life. Thus, through Holden’s dramatic change of lifestyle from his childhood, Holden’s hat symbolizes a barrier used to hide his insecurity along with discomfort and his definite desire to be protected from unrelenting reality.

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≫ Holden’s Attempt to Grasp Comfort: The Catcher in the Rye Symbols Free Essay Sample on Samploon.com (1)

Furthermore, as Holden is deeply affected by the passing of his brother, it is evident that the purchase of the vivid red hat assists in resembling Holden’s fulfilling childhood, with his estranged brother, Allie. Through the realization of reality, the hunting hat resembles an opportunity to escape reality and enter into a fantasy about a world in which he is comforted and has the opportunity to relive his profound childhood. Before Holden leaves Pencey Prep he states, “I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice, “Sleep tight, ya morons!””(Salinger 52). Ultimately, Holden feels confident and content when he wears the hat as it enables him to act like an immature and youthful character, much like how Holden acted alongside Allie. In addition, Holden reveals his desire to remain in his childhood through the red hat as not only is it a vivid colour but also, Holden obtains a preference regarding the style of the hat. Thus, the hunting hat symbolizes the bond between Holden and Allie.

Moreover, Holden reveals a sense of vulnerability as he depends on the hat to assist him in the misfortunes he experiences. As Holden takes Phoebe to the carousel he states, “My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way, but I got soaked anyway”(Salinger 213). Despite the hat’s primary and ineffective use of keeping Holden dry from the rain, it is apparent that Holden realizes that the hunting hat has been an integral component in assisting him through the hardships. Similarly, the hat symbolizes his beloved brother, Allie, as despite the various complications in Holden’s adventure, the hat as an inanimate object, remained consistent and was always by Holden’s side in times of urgency like Allie. Overall, in the novel, The Catcher In The Rye, it is evident that Holden attempts to achieve a sense of comfort through his hunting hat particularly, to relieve feelings of displacement.

The symbolism in The Catcher In The Rye can be seen in the Museum. At the Museum, the artifacts can be seen as being stopped in time and unchanging, which is something that Holden longs for. Holden wishes that the world could be like the museum where everything remained the same through time. He wants a black and white world, with no grey spots. That means life is simple and straightforward, no complications such as death and loss. In the book, Holden explains the symbolic meaning of the museums displays. He states “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish […] Nobody’d be different. […] you’d be different in some way – I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it.” (Salinger 121) Holden likes the Museum because, no matter what else changed in his life, it was always the same, it was like a freeze frame photograph of his childhood, a safe space he could always come back to, that will always remain the same. “Certain things they should stay the way they are.

You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that’s impossible, but it’s too bad anyway.” (Salinger 122) The Museum represents a complete different aspect of Holden’s past. While Jane Gallagher makes Holden want to return to his past, the museum changes his mind. He remembers how he used to go there all the time, and how the wax figures were always the same, but from day to day, he was the only thing that would change. When he walks into the Museum, which he absolutely loved as a child; it seemed the only nice, cozy place in his life. “The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything.

It wouldn’t be that exactly. You’d just be different, that’s all […] you’d heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you’d just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them” (Salinger 121-122) Because of this consistent change, he realizes that he can’t go back in time to be the same way that he used to be, and that his past can never return to his present. Holden is not afraid of growing up, he’s afraid to learn all the imperfections of the world he’s living in, he just wants all the sunshines and rainbows that he experienced when he was a child, he doesn’t want the real reality of the cruel, and dark world. He is trying to focus his perception on the good still left within him and in the world, but as he continues to grow and mature the perception he has of the good left in world is vanishing into the reality of the real world.

In essence, symbolism is an important aspect in the novel, The Catcher In The Rye. It helps us understand Holden’s perspective, thoughts and feelings. The symbols tell us how much Holden admires his childhood and why he wants to remain a child forever. Holden thinks that the adult world is full of phonies and he wants to keep children from falling into adulthood. Holden’s red hunting hat gives him protection from the outside world. It is also a connection to his brother because the hat enables him to feel secure and comforted as he did in the company of Allie. Allie’s baseball mitt symbolizes Holden’s strong attachment to his brother and how much he misses him. Holden keeps Allie’s baseball mitt with him as a symbol of his love for Allie. Holden’s sadness over Allie’s death is one of the most important themes in The Catcher In The Rye and is the key to understanding Holden’s emotional state. Furthermore, the museum symbolizes Holden’s fear of growing out of his childhood and his fear of change. Holden wants nothing to change, like the artifacts in the museum.

≫ Holden’s Attempt to Grasp Comfort: The Catcher in the Rye Symbols Free Essay Sample on Samploon.com (2)

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