The story takes place in Manhattan and is about a young boy named Holden Caulfield, it is about the learning experience that takes place and how an immature child tried to come to terms with multiple problems. In J. D. Salinger’s bildungsroman, Catcher in the Rye, Salinger utilizes the symbols, the red hunting hat; Allie’s catching mitt, and the ducks in central park to portray the theme that it is impossible to preserve natural innocence. Salinger utilizes the symbol of the red hunting hat to portray Holden’s loss of innocence and travel into adulthood.
Firstly, when Holden is first mentioning the hat, “It only cost me a buck. I wore it, I swung the old peak way round to the back-very corny, I’ll admit but I liked it that way. ” (17) Holden is talking about how he bought the hat and just wears it to express his own personality and recognizes that he likes to wear it in different ways.
When he is explaining why he purchased the hat, he is trying to make people understand, he is constantly looking for acceptance from his peers and others, yet at the same time he tries to push people away by wearing the hat.
This helps show that Holden is on his path to trying to figure out how he can stop the inevitable loss of innocence. Secondly, while walking down the street in the cold Manhattan weather, “My ears were nice and warm, though. That hat I bought had earlaps in it.
And I put them on-I didn’t give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around anyway. ” (53) As Holden is walking down the street, all he cares about is what he is feeling at that moment, just trying to stay warm and comfortable not caring about what others think.
One can infer here that Holden doesn’t care too much about what others think, while this could be a facade to what he really feels inside, he tries to portray himself not caring about what others think and just wants to be happy. This continues to portray his path down the loss of innocence because as he starts to realize other people’s thoughts matter, he understands that he must give a little for the acceptance of others. Finally, towards the end of the novel when Holden angers Phoebe, “She wouldn’t answer me.
All she did was, she took off my red hunting hat-the one I gave her- and practically chucked it right in my face. Then she turned her back on me again. It nearly killed me. ” (207) Phoebe is angered by Holden’s immaturity and his lack of caring for others and crushes Holden’s last spirits toward innocence. With ties to the last person in the world crumbling, Holden begins to finally question his stance on life and must decide whether or not he is going to try and salvage the last relationship or completely isolate himself.
Holden realizes that by his sisters actions and her disregard of the hunting hat, that he must grow up and this starts a chain reaction within him that could be a cause of his breakdown but it is unknown, Holden finally comes to terms with this loss of innocence and realizes that there is nothing that he can do to stop it. Allie’s catching mitt is also used in the portrayal of the loss of innocence in Holden and the characters around him. We are first shown the mitt when Holden is doing the composition on the catchers Mitt, “…
He had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere…he wrote them on it so that he’d have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up to bat. He’s dead now. ” (39) This is the first time the reader sees Holden tear up and let some of his emotions get the best of him, he is talking of his dead brother Allie who meant a lot to him. One can infer that this was one of the more important relationships that Holden had and the loss of this relationship causes Holden to feel a series of symptoms and change the way he interacts with people.
With the death of his brother Allie, Holden experiences for the first time, the lost of a loved one, one of the few people that he makes attachments with and this causes him to try and preserve the innocence within other children and even adults that he meets on his journey. The next time we see the glove, Holden is recollecting his past memories of Jane, “She was the only one, outside my family, that I ever showed Allie’s baseball mitt too, with all the poems written on it. ” (77) Jane was another person who Holden allowed himself to get close to; he shows this by showing Jane his brother’s mitt.
Holden is trying to get Jane close to him so that he can have someone in his life that is pure and cares about him, by showing her the mitt; he is revealing a part of him that no one outside of his family knows about. He sees the innocence in Jane and wants to try and preserve it; he wants to get close to Jane to keep her out of the adult world and not allow her to be corrupted by the world around her. The final time the glove is mentioned, Holden is having a flashback on when D. B. ants to prove a point, ““He made Allie go get his baseball mitt and then asked him who was the best war poet, Rupert Brooke or Emily Dickenson. Allie said Emily Dickenson” (140) This is one of the only times we see Allie alive and the whole family, besides Phoebe, together. Allie’s innocence is portrayed through the glove, when D. B. asks him which WWII author was better, one that was in the war or one that never saw a day in the war, Allie answers with the latter. This can be interpreted as Allie seeing how the other author was not corrupted in the war and her work was more pure.