2SymbolsSymbols are objects, characters, figures, and colours used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
3The Red HatPg 15 – ‘I put on this hat that I’d bought in New York that morning. It was this red hunting hat with, with one of those very, very long peaks…The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way round to the very back – very corny, I’ll admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way.’Find the next references to the hat on pages18, 19 and 29 (yellow book 21, 26, 38)Note the quotesWhat do you think is the significance of the hat at this point?Does Holden seem to use it in any specific way?
4The Red Hat‘She took off my red hunting hat – the one I gave her – and practically chucked it in my face. (pg 186)‘then what she did – it damn near killed me – she reached in my pocket and took out my red hunting hat and put it on my head.’ (pg 190)
5What does the hat symbolise? It is a symbol of his uniqueness and individuality. The hat is outlandish, and it shows that Holden desires to be different from everyone around him.At the same time, he is very self-conscious about the hat—he always mentions when he is wearing it, and he often doesn’t wear it if he is going to be around people he knows.The presence of the hat, therefore, mirrors the central conflict in the book: Holden’s need for isolation versus his need for companionship.
6What does the hat symbolise? It is worth noting that the hat’s color, red, is the same as that of Allie’s and Phoebe’s hair.Perhaps Holden associates it with the innocence and purity he believes these characters represent and wears it as a way to connect to them.
7The DucksPg 11 – ‘I was thinking about the lagoon in central Park…I was wondering whether it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did all the ducks go. I was wondering where all the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.’Watch out for other references Holden makes to the ducksYou may begin to see a pattern in when or why he mentions them – make a note of these moments
8What do the ducks symbolise? Their mysterious perseverance in the face of an inhospitable environment resonates with Holden’s understanding of his own situation.The ducks prove that some vanishings are only temporary. Traumatized and made acutely aware of the fragility of life by his brother Allie’s death, Holden is terrified by the idea of change and disappearance. The ducks vanish every winter, but they return every spring, thus symbolizing change that isn’t permanent, but cyclical.The pond itself becomes a minor metaphor for the world as Holden sees it, because it is “partly frozen and partly not frozen.” The pond is in transition between two states, just as Holden is in transition between childhood and adulthood.
9MotifsMotifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.