The Catcher in the Rye

Symbols in The Catcher in the Rye College

Throughout J.D. Salinger’s most famous work of literature, The Catcher in the Rye, the reader is exposed to several facets of symbolism that help give substance and characterization to the protagonist of the story, young Holden Caulfield. It is through these assorted symbols that Holden transforms from an average teenager to a socially disturbed and confused individual, constantly longing for something more. Holden’s gray hair, the ducks from the lagoon in Central Park, and Holden’s deceased younger brother Allie all help characterize Salinger’s sixteen year old knight on his quest to find his true self in a world full of false facades and misleading motives.

One of the first symbols to appear in the novel is Holden’s gray hair. Holden describes himself by saying, “…I’m six foot two and a half and have gray hair. I really do. The one side of my head-the right side-is full of millions of gray hairs. I’ve had them ever since I was a kid.” (Salinger, 9). The appearance of these uncolored hairs at such an early age is a great representation of Holden’s inner struggles. For a long time, he has been caught between two seemingly conflicting worlds: the carefree world of childhood and the daunting and intimidating world of adulthood....

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