Red Hunting Hat Essay

What does symbolism add to a book? It adds morals and depth to the novel. It makes the reader learn something interesting or lets them gain knowledge of something that can change their outlook on how they perceive things. In the novel Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, it is about a perplexed boy, Holden Caulfield. He has trouble dealing the issue of growing up. One of the major symbols in the book is Holden’s red hunting hat.

Salinger uses the hat to signify Holden’s need for comfort and his adolescent problems and pressures.

To begin, when reading the novel one seems to come upon Holden‘s red hunting hat many times while reading. This hunting hat demonstrates Holden’s need for safety and comfort. He was deprived of it when he was a child; for nobody ever asked him how he felt about his younger brother death and his moving to different schools. The assurance one object can create is immense and that’s exactly what it did for Holden.

Holden decides to leave Pencey early and heads to New York City. In cab he puts on his hat and says “I’d put on my red hunting hat when I was in the cab, just for the hell of it, but I took it off before I checked in” (61).

This quote illustrates how Holden feels the need to wear the hat in order to feel safe. He was out in New York City with nowhere to turn too and he had no place to go where he would feel welcomed. The hat seemed to give him a sense of ease, but with that comfort there is a price to pay because he also felt insecure about how people will perceive him while wearing the hat. the red hunting hat is Holden’s desire to be unique and keep his individuality. Not many people will walk down the street wearing a red hunting hat, especially the way Holden wears it.

Holden always wore the hat a certain way. “I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I like it… ” (52). Holden always put his hat on this way, showing he is clearly different from the world. Usually when Holden is wearing his hat he tends to reject people, or has just previously rejected them. Subsequently, the hat also gives Holden insecurity that seems to cause him pressures that one usually obtains during teenage years. But at time his pressure seemed to be a little extreme.

My ears were nice and warm, though. That hat I bought had earlaps in it, and I put them on – I don’t give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around anyway. Everybody was in the sack” (53). This quote exemplifies how Holden tends to take his image to seriously. Yet throughout the novel Holden says that people that are obsessed with their look are phony, showing the reader that at time he is a hypocrite considering he’s obsessed with his look also. Not only does this happen once or twice but numerous times in the book.

The quote tries to explain that Holden does not care what people think about him and yet if he did not he would not have announced that everyone was sleeping and nobody could see him. When Stradlater gets home from his date with Jane Gallagher, he and Holden get in a fight. When it is over, both Holden and Stradlater are left in physical pain. “I kept sitting there on the floor till I heard old Stradlater close the door and go down the corridor to the can, then I got up. I couldn’t find my goddam hunting hat anywhere. Finally I found it… I put it on, and turned the old peak around to the back, the way I liked it” (45).

The fight that Holden has with Stradlater is about Stradlater going out on a date with Holden’s friend Jane Gallagher. Holden gets upset with Stradlater for doing that because he thinks that Stradlater will cause Jane to lose her innocence. After Holden puts his hat on he stops thinking about Jane’s innocence and about his face, a more rational, less emotional subject. This also verifies a very apparent fact Holden seems to not be able up make up his mind on great number of things He seems to find himself in a confused mess.

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