October 30th, 2015
Struggles With Change in The Catcher in the Rye:
New Literary Criticism Approach
Time and time again it has been proven that resisting change is impossible. The famous saying
of “the only constant in life is change” is true in society and is shown in The Catcher in the Rye. For
instance, in the novel the protagonist (Holden Caulfield) is clinging onto childhood, but despite his
fears, change is inevitable . After reading the novel through a new literary criticism lens it is argued
that author J.D. Salinger is informing his readers to avoid being overly attached to childhood because
growing up is natural. Salinger ...view middle of the document...
It played that song
about fifty years ago when I was a little kid. That’s one nice thing about carousels, they always play
the same songs.” (210) With this hyperbole, Salinger shows how Holden is attached to how things
always were and resists change. However, a carousel just goes around and never goes anywhere.
The first example of hyperbole that Salinger uses shows the readers of The Catcher in the Rye that
clinging onto childhood causes someone to act immature for their age meanwhile the second quote
highlights how if someone is too hooked on childhood, they will become fixated on how things are as a
child and will never progress. Both quotes clearly indicate Salinger’s message of continuous change,
even though Holden tries to hold onto the past.
The second stylistic device Salinger uses to communicate the message to his readers is
symbolism. The ducks in the pond are a recurring symbol Salinger uses to represent Holden’s fear of
change. “‘Hey, listen," I said. "You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South?
That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all
frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?’” (60) The ducks in the pond represent Holden’s
fear of change. He is so fixated on where they go in the winter when the pond freezes over and turns
to ice because he does not understand how to adapt to a changing environment himself. The freezing
of the pond can be analyzed to represent adulthood which explains why he is so obsessed with what
happens to the ducks when winter comes around. Salinger uses Holden to support this message to
his audience by showing his readers that clinging onto childhood causes someone to fear change. The
second symbol which is presented several times throughout the novel is Holden’s red hunting hat.
Holden’s hunting hat is a representation of alienation and protection from adulthood. In chapter 23
Holden is in Phoebe's room and he is about to leave. He wants to give his red hunting hat to her but
she does not want to keep it. In the end, Holden still makes Phoebe keep his red hunting hat, and he
leaves. "...Mr. Antolini was waiting for me and all. Then I took my hunting hat out of my coat pocket
and gave it to her. She likes those kind of crazy hats. She didn't want to take it, but I made her. I'll bet
she slept with it on. She really likes those kind of hats..." (180). Holden wants to protect the innocence
of Phoebe because he is afraid she will one day grow up and become an adult thus losing her
innocence as a child. He believes because the red...