The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is about a boy named Holden Caulfield telling the story about his life in the 1950s meanwhile undergoing treatment in a mental institution. Holden Caulfield is a 16 year old boy who has been expelled from school for the fourth time.
Salinger entwine a variety of symbols in The Catcher in the Rye, including the red hunting hat, the ducks in central park, and Allie’s, Holden’s dead brother, mitt. The most occuring symbol that occurs in the novel is the red hunting hat.The Red Hunting Hat symbolizes Holden’s individuality in the story. The red hunting hat shows that Holden desires to be different from everyone around him. Also, in a way throughout the novel Holden breaks the fourth wall a bit by always mentioning when he is wearing it throughout the story and doesn’t wear it if he is going to be around people he knows.
I was sort of crying. I don’t know why. 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). This quote shows how his this red hunting hat is basically Holdens comfort zone or a type of ego that he shows in the novel. This red hat of his is what gives him the courage to call people out or call them phonies like how he thinks everyone around him is. This red hunting hat also represents that the world revolves around him and that if he puts it on, he’ll be bold.The color of the hunting hat symbolizes many things.
However, it could symbolize Holden’s innocence in the story. “My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection..
. but i got soaked anyways.” (Salinger 175). When holden was with the stripper he didn’t have the confidence to have sex with her and he wasn’t mature. The color red can also symbolize his deceased brother’s hair, Allie.
Holden’s brother Allie had red hair. Allie is the only person who Holden seems to like. (Salinger 38). Throughout the whole novel, he kept on praising his deceased brother. Also his sister, Phoebe has red hair and he likes her as well. He sees them as pure and likeable people or they are set to perfection and he doesn’t point out any bad qualities about them.
In the novel, the red had developed from Holden’s individuality to connections to his family. The hat makes Holden feel unique, separated from the outside world and protected from adulthood. However, it reminds him of his connection to his family. Holden might want to belong, but he doesn’t know how to fit in. In the beginning of the story, Holden buys a red hunting hat that he saw in a window of a sports store when he got out of the subway. “I put on this hat that I’d bought in New York that morning.
It was this red hunting hat, with one of those very, very long peaks” (Salinger, 17). While wearing the hat, Holden thinks the hat looks good on him. It makes him look different because it is not the type of hat that people wear in the city that he is in. Holden always feels different from other people throughout the story. The hat is usually worn for hunting in the story, but Holden is wearing it for other reasons because he doesn’t want to be like other people. He thinks that most people are phonies and that they are not doing or saying what they really feel. They’re living their lives to fit in with other people and not doing what they really like.
He usually wears the hat when he is by himself because it reminds him that he is unique. Holden doesn’t want to look different all the time, so when he checks into the Edmont Hotel in New York after he leaves school, and decides not to go home, he takes the hat off. “I took it off before I checked in. I didn’t want to look like a screwball or something” (Salinger, 61).
Holden may feel different, but he doesn’t always want to look different. Salinger wrote The Catcher In The Rye in 1951. The story is about a boy who has many problems, such as the fear of change and growing up. Salinger uses symbolism to carry Holden’s thoughts and feelings describe his personality. Salinger uses this in his story because the protagonist is not mature enough to explore these things for himself, and to help the audience understand him.
Moreover, the readers learn about his feelings through the way he acts and the things that are important to him. The three symbols that describes Holden’s feelings are the red hunting hat, Allie’s baseball mitt, and the ducks in the pond. These symbols represent Holden’s fears of growing up and becoming a phony adult. However, the red hunting hat is the symbol that occurs the most.