The Catcher in the Rye
October 23rd, 2012
People, things, and heck, even places can mean more than they are attributed to and represent abstract ideas. Often times, religious and superstitious people refer to events, places and objects as symbols, whether it’s bad luck or good fortune. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger expresses this notion multiple times through the protagonist’s observations. One particular notion would be the red hunter’s hat. Unique in that everyone wise would buy a brown or green. Albeit it is a hat, it represented Holden as an individual and unique person.
“That killed me.” A simple phrase that the literal meaning meant something caused him death. In Holden’s case however, it meant an array of different meanings that was only to him. It could mean amusement, shock, anger and many other emotions. Yet again, this represents his position as an individual. Like the red hunters hat, he could’ve easily chosen something such as “that’s funny,” or “that pissed me off,” but he chose not to further engraving his uniqueness into the readers mind.
Holden was unique in the way he characterized people. Everyone was a phony to him, someone who is uncool. Everyone from total strangers, to people he’s known for years were phonies to him. Everyone but himself was phonies. Most people would get to know the persons personality and quirks before judging, yet Holden doesn’t take anything into consideration and calls them a phony if they don’t do what he likes. As with the red hunter’s hat, he could have chosen something better and normal for his life, but he chose to live it differently and that as well defines him as unique.
Beliefs are also a separator between Holden and normal people. Normal people would think that they want to strive towards change and difference, yet Holden wanted something opposite of that. He wanted everything to remain the same, everything to stay simple and uncomplicated in his life and everything to be the way he wanted it to be. Just like the red hunters hat, he chose something that is completely contradictory from the norm.
Overall, Holden is someone who could be considered the epitome of unique. From the way he acts, to the beliefs that scour his mind, down to the way he dresses. The red hunter’s hat represents all of this within Holden and establishes himself as unique and as an individual and as someone different in the society he dwells within.