Symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye Rough Essay

Submitted By dwranker
Words: 900
Pages: 4

I should begin by mentioning that Holden Caulfield's red hunting hat, the topic which I have chosen to compose my essay based upon, has a slew of cryptic suggestions to what the actual symbolism of it might be; and I have determined that the interpretation of what the hunting hat represents, is left open to the reader, and can have multiple possible conclusions.
There are a few motifs that the hat may represent, that greatly stood out to me. I believe the hat may represent confidence for Holden, but it may also represent his brother Allie. Another possibility is that it represents Holden's nearly insane, manic­depressive, unusual personality which seems to be magnified when wearing his "people shooting" hat. In this essay I will be examining all of these possibilities, and giving reason as to why I suppose the hat may represent any one of the articles stated. Because of the frequency that Holden's red hunting hat is mentioned, there are many different components of the novel that suggest what the purpose of including it in the story might be. At the moment Holden's hat is initially introduced, Holden has just discovered that he has left all of the fencing team's equipment on the subway. Therefore we know that the hunting hat came into Holden's life at a moment in time when he was rather unhappy. The red hunting hat merely cost Holden one dollar, yet he is rather proud and visibly more confident when he is wearing it. From this we are able to deduce that the dollar, or money in general, holds little value to Holden. This may be accredited to the fact that for the majority of the book he seems to have more than enough money to provide for himself. Although it may furthermore suggest that Holden holds things that bring him joy, with high sentimental value to himself. This may be due to the fact that there are an interestingly measly amount of things that bring Holden true joy, or even a smile to his face. So, what’s going on with this hat? It shows up over and over again at important moments—writing the composition about Allie's baseball mitt, staring at himself in the mirror and pretending to be tough after Stradlater punches him, yelling "Sleep tight, ya morons" down the corridor. Meanwhile, he takes it off when he's on the train, going to a bar, in hotel lobbies, and so forth. So while he's all about the hat in private, he's embarrassed or lacking confidence to wear it in public. (Although, fair enough, it was also just considered polite to take your hat off inside, just like today.) We even get hints to this at the start of Chapter
Thirteen ("I took my red hunting and put it on—I didn't give a damn how I looked"), the end of
Chapter Sixteen ("I took my old hunting hat out and put it on. I knew I wouldn't meet anybody that knew me"), and the start of Chapter Twenty­One ("I'd already taken off my hunting hat, so as not to look suspicious"). Despite his embarrassment, the hunting hat becomes an important part of the way Holden sees himself. It's a people shooting hat, he declares (we hope not literally). When he's wearing it, he can be as insular and tough and as individual as he wants—just like Allie and
Phoebe, both redheads. That's why it's such a big deal when Phoebe puts it on his head at the end of the novel: not only is she giving