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Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger Essay

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The novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” revolves around the protagonist Holden Caulfield as the story is told from his perspective. J.D. Salinger constructed Holden Caulfield as a cynical person who cannot accept to grow up. Throughout “The Catcher in the Rye,” J.D. Salinger uses symbolism to reveal and reinforce critical aspects of the protagonist Holden Caulfield. Three important aspects Holden acquired through Salinger’s use of symbolism are: his stubborn, uncompromising mentality; his softer, more caring respectful side; Holden’s cowardly way of acting and thinking.
A big trait in Holden’s character is the stubbornness. Holden is not willing to accept his problems in addition to let others help him. It is equally important to realize that Holden’s stubbornness is fatal to changing, otherwise growing up. One of the first symbols introduced is Holden’s red hunting hat. “This is a people shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat. (3.31)” gives signs that this hat is a way to alienate himself from the world. When Holden articulates it is for shooting people; shooting really means calling them phonies to only stubbornly protect himself from the outer world. Proceeding to Holden’s visit to Phoebe’s school, the f**k you signs on the wall are a way of representing the negative influences on kids. Holden’s stubbornness is shown when he attempts to erase them off the wall, although states “you couldn’t rub out even half the ‘F**k You’ signs in the world.(25.18)” The symbol’s meaning towards the story is understood that it’d be pointless to erase even all of the negative influences in the world because they’d just re-appear, except the protagonist cannot accept the reality of the situation. Jumping right to the end of the novel, when Phoebe ...


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