The Catcher in the Rye Symbolism #2

At the end of this week you should have completed reading The Catcher in the Rye.  Themes have emerged as we observe Holden’s advancing conflict.  J.D. Salinger utilizes symbolism throughout his literary publications apparently providing the reader with deeper insight in order to comprehend his character’s problem and ultimate resolution to that underlying conflict.  Consider these themes that have taken root as we follow Holden in New York City:  Loss of Innocence, mortality, and alienation.  

Loss of innocence seems to consume Salinger as reported from his personal life as well as observed through his characters’ struggles.  In particular in The Catcher in the Rye Holden struggles with the inevitable understanding that adults are phonies because they no longer maintain the innocence that is so apparently significant to Holden.

Holden really struggles with mortality.  Allie’s death seems to have sent Holden spiraling into a fixation with the fate of people especially children.  While death is inevitable, Holden can’t seem to move beyond his brother’s death causing Holden profound anguish.

Alienation occurs when a person withdraws or becomes isolated from their environment or from other people. People who show symptoms of alienation will often reject loved ones or society. They may also show feelings of distance and estrangement, including from their own emotions.  Alienation is a complex, yet not uncommon condition. It’s both sociological and psychological, and can affect your health and aggravate existing medical conditions such as depression, panic attacks, and disillusion  Feeling distanced from work, family, and friends is a common symptom of alienation. Other symptoms include:

  • feeling helpless
  • feeling that the world is empty or meaningless
  • feeling left out of conversations or events
  • feeling different or separate from everyone else
  • having difficulty approaching and speaking with others, especially parents
  • feeling unsafe when interacting with others
  • refusing to obey rules

Alienation is a condition that frequently is observed with Salinger’s protagonists.   

In your second practice related to examining Salinger’s symbolism.  Create a list of the symbols and assign them to the three themes outlined above.  Then locate passages where these symbols appear in the novel; include the page number where the passages are located. 

Submit your completed assignment to Turnitin by midnight tonight.