Don’t Look Back
In J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger uses many symbols on childhood versus adulthood. Holden, the main character, struggles with adulthood. He can never look forward into the future and does not like the fact that everything around him is changing. After the death of Holden’s brother, Allie, Holden finds that it is hard to get past childhood since he has been idolizing childhood the whole time. Childhood versus adulthood plays a major role in the novel, from the red hunting hat, to the discussion about the ducks and fishes, and finally the trip to the museum.
From the start of the story, Holden wears his red hunting hat in a weird way, in front and below his eye. When Ackley talks to Holden, he puts his hat on and gets into his own world: “What I did was, I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around the front, then pulled it way down over my eyes. That way, I couldn’t see a goddam thing.” (p.21) Pulling the red hunting hat down over his eyes represents that he has no direction in the future. He makes sure he doesn’t see anything so that he doesn’t have to look forward and it also blinds him from the future. Wearing the hat gives Holden the comfort to think that Allie is still with him because to Holden, Allie is innocence and that he believes Allie shouldn’t have died the way he did. If Holden never has to look forward to anything, then he thinks everything can stay the same.
Because Holden is stuck in the past, he believes innocence is perfect, while everyone he cares about is changing. When Holden gets into the cab, he asks the driver about the ducks in Central Park: “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 chance?” (p.81) Holden wonders about the ducks because they represent his friends. Since the ducks are not at the lake, it shows that his friends are starting to change or entering adulthood. The ducks leaving the lake...