"The Catcher in the Rye" has a lot of important symbols and meanings. Each symbol seems to represent a part of Holden's personality, whether it is, an idea in particular, or a thing that is part of his surroundings.
One of the most noticeable symbols in the story is the red hunting hat. The hat symbolizes Holden's uniqueness and his desire to be the one who stands out from the crowd. He also uses the hat as a method to avoid people. "What I did was, I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around to the front, then pulled it way down over my eyes. That way I couldn't see a thing." (Salinger, 21) The way the hat looks, makes Holden different from the people around him, making him a lonely person, which brings a bigger issue, Holden's desire to be left alone and the fact that he needs someone to understand him and be his friend.
Something a little far less noticeable than the red hunting is Holden's gray hair. Even though it is just a patch of it, Holden often uses it to his advantage when he wants to be seen as an adult, like when he is at clubs trying to order alcohol or he is trying to talk to women, but at the end, it does not turn out to be what he had expected.
Other symbols included in "The Catcher in the Rye" are ducks in the lagoon in Central Park and the racing skates are important to the development of the story. Holden always wondered where the ducks went during the winter and he would ask people and no one seemed to know what he was talking about or at least be concerned. "'You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know by any chance?'" (60) Holden's desire to know where the ducks went would give him insight to his own life and where to go and what do to do when things around him got a little rough. The racing skates also have a symbolic meaning, the racing skates Holden wanted may be perceived as a way to get away from life and start from scratch one more time.
Besides the ducks in the lagoon and the racing skates, Allie's baseball glove and the Museum of Natural History are considerably important to Holden. Allie's baseball glove reminds Holden of his deceased younger brother who died of leukemia. The idea that his brother died often torments Holden and when he thinks about it, his prospect on life changes. Holden feels a lot worse about Allie's death because he was one of the few people Holden thought was not a phony in a place where everyone around him was. Also, the Museum of Natural History is important to Holden. Every time he went, there would be something different about him but the place would remain intact, nothing would change, everything was in the exact same place where it was the last time he was there. This place is symbolic because it reflects Holden's desire for things to stay the same way they are, whether they are in a crystal case or on the floor. In addition to that, Holden wishes things would be less complex and maybe he would be able to solve the problems in his life.
"The Cather in the Rye" contains a large number of symbols and meanings. Each meaning can be perceived differently, and they can point out certain thoughts and things that are part of his environment. These symbols help to story to develop better and they also give a lot of insight to reader about what the main character is feeling.
Works Cited:Burns, Robert. "Comin thro' the rye." 4 Oct. 2008. The Robert Burns World Federation Limited. 11 Jan. 2009 .
"Symbolism in "The Catcher in the Rye"." CheatHouse. 16 April 2004, 11:54 PDT. Gradua Networks. 11 Jan 2009.
Salinger, Jerome D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 1951.