Catcher in the Rye is full of messages and underlying themes some more obvious than others. Some examples are Allie’s glove, the ducks in the lagoon, and Holden’s red hunting cap. It’s to name a few. It is quite apparent that all of these mean something, but what are they actually supposed to symbolize?
The first piece of symbolism is Allie’s baseball glove. Throughout the book it is quite obvious it means a lot to him, like when he tells Stradlater about it, and Stradlater does not really pay attention, Holden gets extremely angry. This shows that to Holden Allie’s baseball glove is almost like a priceless relic in his head. It also symbolizes that Holden wishes to protect children and it also emphasizes his love for not only Allie but his siblings in general.
The poems written on it also acts like a symbol for Holden’s love of language and poetry. This also could explain why when Holden is in a difficult episode in his life he would talk to Allie as if he was praying. Allie’s baseball glove is an important part of Holden’s character and holds some small details one might miss.
Furthermore, another sort of symbol in Catcher in the Rye is the burning question that is always on Holden’s mind “What happens to the ducks in Central Park lagoon when the lagoon freezes over?” Throughout the course of the book he asks this to himself and other characters. These ducks could symbolize a number of things. It could be a reminder that Holden despite trying to act adult and grim throughout the story, is technically still a teen and he is still filled with that kind of “child like curiosity”.
Alternatively, these ducks could maybe symbolize Holden himself, being forced to leave their normal living spot in order to survive, like Holden leaving Penney and going to New York and like the ducks leaving and migrating somewhere warmer. Also, it could perhaps show that Holden has a sort of fear of change and things that are not permanent. The question about the ducks that Holden always thinks about has a lot more deeper meaning than meets the eye.
Lastly, one more thing that has deep symbolism in the novel is Holden’s red hunting cap one of the books most famous trademarks, it is one of the novels most famous symbols or icons. It is no wonder this cap has a lot of meaning behind it. It emphasizes Holden’s need to be “individual” and “special” , to stand out. Yet sometimes he feels embarrassed when he wears it which shows the opposite, Holden’s desire to fit in.
This is a running theme in the book, Holden’s wants to stick out of a crowd yet blend inside of one at the same time. Additionally, the color of it could symbolize Holden’s siblings. The color of the cap is red, which is also described to be the color of Phoebe and Allie’s hair. It has multiple meanings and fleshes Holden out as a character, it is not a coincidence the red hunting cap is one of the most famous symbols in Catcher in the Rye.
All in all, those were just a few examples of some symbolism is Catcher in the Rye. Catcher in the Rye has countless deep and interesting symbols that really helps one appreciate the book a lot more.