Symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye: The novel’s most important symbol is found in the title. Holden explains to Phoebe that all he wants to be is the catcher in the rye. He pictures himself wearing a giant mitt, ready to catch kids as they fall off a cliff while playing in the rye. The kids represent childhood. The field represents innocence. The fall from the cliff represents the fall from innocence. Holden represents the attempt to shelter kids from growing up, and more personally, represents his desire to avoid the harshness of adult life. The Catcher in the Rye, Part 2: The symbol is ironic. Holden mistakes the words in the song, much in the same way he mistakes the cause of his torment–it comes from himself, not from others. He thinks the words are “if a body catch a body comin' through the rye.” The actual words are “if a body meet a body comin' through the rye” and is a justification for casual sex. It is ironic, too, that Holden’s avoidance of adulthood and his resistance to the “phony” adult world is setting himself up for a fall, as pointed out by Mr. Antolini. [caption id=“attachment_130527” align=“aligncenter” width=“512”]
For Further Reading
The symbolism in the catcher in the rye is prevalent throughout this book. Can you think of other symbols within that we haven’t discussed yet? Also, Holden makes several allusions to literary works in the novel. Refresh your memory by checking out these study guides: Romeo and Juliet and The Great Gatsby. Image: The Catcher in the Rye
This post is part of the series: The Catcher in the Rye Study Guide
Nothing like the tale of a maladjusted teenager for entertainment.