What do you know about adolescence? What does the word adolescent mean? “Adolescent: A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity; a teenager” (The Free Dictionary). In The Catcher in the Rye, a novel by J.D. Salinger an adolescent is a person who does not know what life is and finds it hard to know what choices are the best for him. We seethis in the main character Holden, who seems to be having a hard time with growing up, becoming an adult and accepting the responsibilities of being a mature person. There are three symbols in the novel that explain how he is still being an immature person: his red hunting hat, the ducks, and the fish.
Through out the book, Holden talks a lot about his red hunting hat and how he likes to wearit; this red hunting hat symbolizes the insecurity in his own person or even with the people around him. This means that he is not sure of whom he is, and also his immaturity. “What I did was, I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around to the front, then pulled it way down over my eyes. That way, I couldn’t see a goddam thing” (Salinger 29). He is always wearing this hunting red hat inparticular moments in the book, he also wears it when it does not seems to be cold or to need it for keeping warm, but he wears it to feel protection, or even security for himself. These things, like having to hide from people or not being able to be himself with everybody, means that even if he is sixteen years old and he is suppose to be an adolescent who is learning how to deal with life alone, andsolve his own problems, he still needs this kind of support which he gets by hiding in a hat. Also these things mean that he knows he is still being a child, and that he is not ready to jump into an adult life and be as secure as an adult is. Holden feels insecure because he is a person with a lot of doubts in his life and his beliefs, and also because he does not have anyone in his life to rely on ortalk to. He pushes away everyone that is trying to help him, so he is on his own and he does not know which way to go or where to start to be happy.
For Holden, the ducks in the lagoon are very important and he keeps looking for an explanation to know why they always leave. Holden being so interested in these ducks in the lagoon symbolizes the act of running away from problems or running fromsomething you do not want to face, such as truth. This still show how immaturity is a characteristic of a child “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?” (Salinger 107). In this obsession with the ducks at the lake, Holden feels really close to them just because they do the same as he does.They follow the flow and always change direction. They both never stay in the same place; the ducks do it because of the conditions of the weather, but Holden does it just because he never face his problems and he keeps leaving them behind as he moves from school to school. He thinks that this action of not finishing what he has started and caused that much problems, is the right path to take in hislife. This also means that he does not know what he wants and that he is still being as immature as a five year old child who only does what he wants and not what is the best for him. He is so obsessed with children and their innocence that he does not want to grow up and move on; he does not let anyone talk to him and help him. He tries hard to become an adult and even if he does not want to, insome aspects he shows he is growing but he ends up becoming the same kid.
Holden thinks the ducks are smart to fly away when the situation gets bad, but he also figures out that there are fish in the lagoon and that they never move from where they are. This symbolizes that even if there are people who run away from everything, there are also mature people who know how to deal with problems and...