Symbolism in the Book The Catcher in the Rye

Jerome David Salinger hid a lot of symbols in his novel ‘Catcher in the Rye.’ It’s also attractive for readers when the author speaks about the transition from childhood to adulthood. This transition is always harmful to every young boy or girl because it is difficult to recognize the boundary between these two periods.

For example, the ‘Catcher in the Rye’ red hunting hat symbolizes the uniqueness that every child has until they become an adult. The color of the hat represents the brightness of a child’s imagination, where an adult’s perception of life can be faded. By reading this book, you can consider that it has many other symbolic meanings. If you still can’t read between the lines, try to learn it from this sample we present to you.

Read more samples at our blog on literature to improve your analysis skills and not only find ‘Catcher in the Rye’ symbols, but reveal them in any literary composition.

Symbolism in the Book The Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield wants to be the “catcher in the rye,” his misinterpretation of the poem “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye,” where the poet asks if it is okay for two people who randomly met in a field of tall rye to have sex. Afraid of that idea polluting the minds of children, he wants to “catch” them from losing their innocence. Can we save them? For Holden, it is hopeless, just as he wishes to rub out the obscene graffiti on the walls of Phoebe’s school. But still, we can. How?

We can do it by being realistic. Holden’s intention to save children’s innocence is pure, but it seems unrealistic. Why? According to Dr. Caroline Moss, “Today, children are being sexualized earlier…because they are exposed to sexual material in movies, television, music, and other media earlier than ever.” In contrast, accepting what society now is now and stepping up to teach our children first, by us and not by society, is the first step to save our children.

Teach our children unchanging principles. Holden wants to live in an unchanging world. That is why he admired the sturdy walls and floors of the Museum of Natural History, with its exhibits in its constant place. Principles such as “for whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap” can help our children realize that unlawful sexual intercourse will result in their ruin (Galatians 6:7, New World Translation). Sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancies, and a guilty conscience are some of them.

Be a good example. Leo Tolstoy suggests this when he says that “everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” We cannot change circumstances, but we can change our viewpoint. Live by the values we teach and be a role model for the next generation. That is a lesson Holden needs to realize to be contributory to the good of society.

We cannot protect our children by just saving their innocence. By teaching them never-changing principles and through our examples, we can catch them from going in the rye.

Works Cited

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. 2013 Revision. Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A, 2013.
Moss, Carolyn. “Overexposed and Under-Prepared: The Effects of Early Exposure to Sexual Content.” Psychology Today, 13 Aug 2012, Accessed 21 Dec 2019.
Tolstoy, Leo. “Three Methods of Reform.” Pamphlets: Translated from the Russian, 1900.