Red Hunting Hat Symbolism In Catcher In The Rye

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The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger is a modern classic. Holden Caulfield is the protagonist of the novel, and his iconic “red hunting hat” is inseparable from the mental imagery of Holden, making it one of the most recognisable symbols from literature to date. This unforgettable hat makes appearances during important turning points throughout the novel - writing about Allie’s baseball mitt, looking at himself in the mirror and acting tough after Stradlater punches him, and when he decides to leave Pencey Prep by yelling “Sleep tight, ya morons” down the corridor. This red hunting hat is a symbol of Holden’s uniqueness and individuality, as it is outlandish and demonstrates Holden’s want to be different from everyone around him. However,…show more content…
This is a play with colors, not just randomly chosen, but with a very specific meaning which reveals Holden's fear of growing up. Gray hair symbolizes maturity and growing old, which Holden is running away from for such a long time. The color of the hat, on the other side, is the complete opposite in Holden's mind. It is red, the color of Allie's and Phoebe's hair - for Holden it is a color of childhood and innocence. Holden had "quite a bit of gray hair" and when he met a woman on a train he "showed her [his] gray hair" because it "fascinated the hell out of her". The fact that his personality is wandering between a child and an adult suggests that he is physically ready for a change, but he does not want to accept it. Holden is ready to show his adult side in situations in which it would give him some advantage, like in this case, make him look older in front of a mother of one of the other students in Pencey. However, he is afraid of the responsibility and falseness of adulthood, and that is why he keeps running away from it. His hiding of his gray hair shows his situation - having power and being afraid to use it unless it is for a little while and it gives him an advantage in the moment. Holden is made to realize he cannot be a child forever, or pass with the excuse that he is a "madman" in front of the world, which has expectations for
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