Symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is an unique book. The primary character Holden is telling his story from a mental center about his life and how he got there. Throughout the book, you see Holden’s point of view of innocence. He values it very much and does not want any kid to be robbed from their innocence too early. Salinger utilizes significance throughout the book to interact Holden’s viewpoint on innocence.
The title “The Catcher in the Rye” is a very big part of symbolism in this book. Holden develops an image in his head due to the fact that he mishears a song based upon Robert Burns poem, Coming Thro the Rye. “The words are ‘if a body meet a body comin’ through the rye’ referring to sexual encounters when there are no ties or wedding event bells to be heard. Holden translates the really opposite. He believes the words are “if a body catch a body comin’ through the rye'” (Jess 2011). Holden envisions seeing himself standing on the edge of a cliff in a rye field. His task is to capture all of the children who are running through the rye field to stop them from the adult years and losing their innocence. “Anyhow, I keep imagining all these little kids playing some video game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and no one’s around– nobody big, I suggest– other than me. And I’m standing on the edge of some insane cliff. What I need to do, I have to capture everybody if they begin to go over the cliff– I suggest if they’re running and they do not look where they’re going I need to come out from somewhere and capture them” (Salinger 173). Holden’s misconception signifies his desire to keep the kids from losing their innocence.
Another sign that Salinger uses is the museum. In the book, Holden is extremely fond of the museum. He likes it because it never ever changes. “The Museum of Nature represents childhood in the book. Like the museum, Holden does not wish to alter. He wishes to be just like the screens discovered throughout the building” (Krista 2011). Holden show this by stating, “The very best thing, though, in that museum was that everything constantly stayed right where it was. Nobody ‘d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their method south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole … No one ‘d be different. The only thing that would be various would be you. Not that you ‘d be a lot older or anything. It would not be that exactly. You ‘d just be various, that’s all” (Salinger 121). The museum not only represents Holden’s desire to not change, but for everybody else on the planet to remain the like well. He does not desire kids, and specifically Phoebe, to change from being innocent kids. He desires them to hold on to their innocence forever. Holden says, “… and I kept thinking of old Pheobe going to that museum on Saturdays the way I used to, I thought how she ‘d see the exact same stuff that I visited, and how she ‘d be various each time she saw it” (Salinger 122).
The carousel scene in the book is a turning point in the book. Holden takes his sis Phoebe to Central Park. Holden views from a park bench when Phoebe chooses to ride the carousel. “Then the carousel began, and I saw her go round and round … All the kids attempted to get for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of scared she’s fall off the goddam horse, however I didn’t state or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to get for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not state anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you state anything to them” (Salinger 211). He understands that Phoebe and other children are going to deal with challenges and threats in their lives and he can’t save them from whatever. He comprehends that kids will ultimately alter and mature no matter how hard he tries to stop time. “Holden recognizes that no matter how hard he attempts to stop Phoebe from falling off the carousel and how tough he tries to keep her going around in circles, they eventually will fall and there is nothing you can do about it” (Enotes.com 2010). After Holden realizes this, he feels genuinely happy for the first time in the book. He realizes that time must go on and we should grow up.
Salinger interacts how Holden feels through meaning extremely successfully. The title Catcher in the Rye and the museum both represent Holden’s views on innocence and how he doesn’t want kids or himself to lose it. We also know that Holden’s ideas change throughout the book solely to the fact of the significance of the carousel. He understands that no matter how hard he attempts, time goes on and kids grow up. It’s simply a part of life simply as numerous things are and you can not stop time.