Symbolism in "Catcher in the Rye"

Essay by MegRobHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2003

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The title of the book is a symbol in its self. The song by Rober Burns, "Comin' Thro' the Rye" actually is about seeing if it is wrong for two people to have a romantic encounter in a field of rye, away from the public eye. In Chapter 16, when Holden sees the little boy walking in the street and singing that song, Holden mistakes the line " if a body -meet- a body, coming through the rye" for 'if a body -catch- a body coming through the rye." Really, the two words -catch- and -meet- have a totally opposite meaning. When Phoebe asks Holden in Chapter 22 What he wants to do, he says that he wants to be a 'catcher in the rye', that he wants to catch the children before they fall off the cliff. Holden wants to protect the children. He wants to catch the children before they fall out of innocence into knowledge of the real world, including knowledge of sex.

Holden's Red Hunting Hat is one of the most recognizable symbols in the book. You just can't picture Holden without it, really. It is a symbol of uniqueness and individuality. It shows that Holden wants to stand out, and be different from everyone around him. Whenever he wears the hat though, he is always sure to tell that he when he was wearing it and how he was wearing it. He doesn't usually wear the hat around people he knows. The hat shows that Holden's need for isolation compared to his need for companionship. The hats color "red" is the same color of Allie and Phoebe's hair. Maybe Holden associates it with the innocence he believes that his brother and sister had, or have.

The Museum of Natural History is the...