Saving the Youthfulness in Catcher in the Rye

Categories: Catcher In The RyeUsa

As Alfred North Whitehead once said, “Symbolism is no more idle fancy or corrupt degeneration: it is inherent in the very texture in human life.” In the book The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger refers to many things in the book such as a museum, red hunting hat, and carousel. All of these references have different meanings like the carousel for instance. In The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger refers to the museum as a place where everything stays the same like how Holden wants to keep everyone’s innocence the same forever.

The museum is important to Holden because it gives Holden the interpretation of everything inside there never changing. The book says, “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. . . . Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you”(Salinger, p.121).

This shows that a museum is a place that is very important to Holden, a place where everything stays the same.

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For example, Holden would go to the museum just to see the things that never changed. By thinking of this he wished that Allie would be wrapped like the mummies in the museum so his body can be preserved. Another symbol is Holden’s red hunting hat. Secondly, the red hunting hat is a symbolistic object in this book which symbolizes Holden’s siblings, Phoebe and Allie’s hair. The hat being symbolized as Holden’s brother and sister’s hair is only an assumption but he did give the hat to Phoebe when they went on the carousel.

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In Chapter twenty-five Holden thought in his mind, “Then what she did it damn near killed me she reached in my coat pocket and took out my red hunting hat and put it on my head'(Salinger, p.212).

The reader can only assume that since Holden’s siblings are so important to Holden, and both Phoebe and Allie’s hair is red, the red hat symbolizes their hair. This may also symbolize that Holden is scared of adulthood and wants to become a kid again like his siblings. As the book states, “It’s really ironical, because I’m six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do”(Salinger, p.9). This shows the reader that since Holden’s hair is gray, he may want his hair like all of his siblings. There are many other symbols, for example, the carousel. Lastly, the carousel is a very important thing to Holden, as to him, the carousel stands as the youth staying young forever. Holden took Phoebe on a carousel and it started raining. She took out Holden’s red hunting hat and put it on his head. The reader could assume that the carousel symbolizes never-ending youthfulness because of Holden’s obsession with adulthood and youthfulness. The carousel goes round and round like how Holden wants children youthfulness.

In short, symbols like the carousel is a big part of Salinger’s novel. Salinger refers to many symbols such as the carousel, the red hunting hat, and the museum as big influences on Holden. These symbols mean something to Holden that other people wouldn’t think of. All of the symbols wrap around Holden’s obsessiveness of youthfulness and staying young forever. Since Holden feels like adulthood is a bad thing, in his mind he is trying to save younger people from adulthood. Salinger has many symbols in the book The Catcher in the Rye which has special meanings to the character Holden.

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Saving the Youthfulness in Catcher in the Rye. (2021, Sep 20). Retrieved from

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