Catcher in the Rye Duck Symbolism
In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, many symbols are employed. One of these symbols is the ducks in the Central Park lagoon, which represent many important virtues in the novel. These virtues are seen in the main character, Holden, a misunderstood kid who is angry at the world. However, the ducks demonstrate some of Holden’s better traits: his inclination to learn more about the world and his adoration of childhood. The symbolism of the ducks is developed in many ways. Salinger introduces that the ducks are significant by showing Holden’s further curiosity in them. During the novel he asks his first cab driver if he “happen[s] to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?” (60).
This same curiosity trails him later in the book when he questions a second cab driver. Later on, Salinger associates the duck’s determination to overcome the adverse environment with Holden’s understanding of his own situation. Much like Holden’s life, the environment the ducks live in is constantly changing and they have to learn to adapt to their new environment relatively quickly. However, a more key point in the novel is when Salinger displays Holden’s emotions. He arrives drunk at the park to find to his dismay that the ducks are not there.
Catcher in the Rye Duck Symbolism Essay Example
As a result, he sits there pondering suicide, mainly because of the influence they have on him. With his sudden awareness of the fragility of life by his brother, Allie’s death: He is very scared of change and disappearance. Thus, Salinger introduces how the ducks are symbolic in another way.. The ducks display the idea that some vanishings are only temporary. In addition, they symbolize that change is recurring, not permanent. This is proven when the ducks disappear every winter yet return to the same place every spring. This thought arouses Holden’s curiosity once again about where the ducks actually go during winter. Salinger contrasts his depressed and angry depiction with a sincere, more childlike side to his character. This connects to the ducks because Holden shows care towards the ducks, where in contrast, he pays little attention to many things in the story.
This is a very notable moment in the story since Holden evidently has very little ambition in many other aspects of his life. In addition to the strong comparison between the lives of Holden and the ducks, they also represent his relationship with his family. His fear is that he may be unable to assimilate smoothly back into his family. This is embodied in Holden’s communication with his sister Phoebe, and the way he writes about her. Along with this Salinger highlights Holden’s curiosity once again, nonetheless, this time it is more anxiety than curiosity. Holden asks, “Well, you know the ducks that swim around in it? In the springtime and all? Do you happen to know where they go in the wintertime, by any chance?” (81-82). Salinger uses diction to characterize Holden’s worry moreover, when his parents discover his expulsion from Pency Prep. All of this symbolism is very effective in representing Salinger’s themes in the novel.
They provide us with good examples of a struggling kid and his unique dependence on something that would otherwise be meaningless. The duck’s situation with their struggle to survive the harsh environment, having to leave for winter, correlates with Holden’s own internal struggles. Also, his understanding that change is cyclical helps him cope with the idea that although things might not always be better, he will be better. Salinger’s ability to incorporate so many symbols in the novel creates a very clear main theme. He uses the idea that some vanishings are only temporary, much like the ducks when they leave for winter. This is to contrast that innocence is such a pure and significant part of life that only exists temporarily.
This relates to Holden’s curiosity throughout the novel. It is clear on the outside he is a miserable individual who struggles to fit in society. However, his inclination to learn more about the world and his adoration of childhood gives the reader a different viewpoint of his character: much like when he shows his curiosity and adoration of the ducks. It allows us to see a genuine kid who has overcome a lot of adversity in his life and attempts to do well. Salinger shows this in Holden’s figurative efforts to catch children from falling off the cliff of innocence into the corrupt depths of society.