In The Catcher in the Rye J. D Slinger uses Holder’s recurring mentions of the ducks in Central park to reveal the childlike curiosity and genuine side to Holder’s regularly blunt and overwhelmingly cynical character. During his first of several taxi rides in the city, Holder, bothered by the thought of constant change yet intrigued by the thought of how others cope with change begins to ask his cab driver the whereabouts of the ducks in Central Park when the lake freezes over.
“Then thought of something, all of a sudden. “Hey, listen,” I aid. ‘You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance? ‘ I realized it was only one chance in a million. He turned around and looked at me like I was a madman.
“What’re way ternary do, bud? ” he said. “Kid me? “” NO?I was just interested, that’s all. ” (60). As exemplified by many symbols throughout the book such as the wax museum, Holder finds solace and inform in things that are constant and don’t change.
Holder’s interactions are sabotaged by his resentment of “phoniness” and his prominent and overly judgmental side, constantly overwhelming and undermining the genuine and caring side seen only when Holder feels comforted and welcomed by his environment. His red hunting cap is another symbol of protection for Holder. “Ackley took another look at my hat … “Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Christmas,” he said. “That’s a deer shooting hat. ” “Like hell it is. I took it Off and looked at it. I sort Of closed one eye, like I was taking aim at it. “This is a people shooting hat,” I said. L shoot people in this hat. ” (22). When Holder says “l realized it was only one chance in a million. ” (60), as he poses his question about the ducks to the cab driver, is his way Of “people shooting” as demonstrated by his cap, a way Of making the distinction between someone who would answer his question honestly, or someone in his mind “phony”, or disingenuous, clouded by the cruel realities of maturity and the adult world. This one in a million chance is Holder referring to his realization that the odds of a complete stranger answering his question seriously, are as good as none.
Moreover, the continuous change and constant moving in Holder’s life, both of which he utterly resents are symbolic of the ducks. Holder’s changing from school to school is almost cyclical, as is the migration and the return of the ducks when the pond returns to its original state. Ultimately, Holder finds himself trapped in a state of longing for his childhood, his frequent use of alcohol and cigarettes and sense of rancidity, all a facade, masking his yearning for a life of innocence and honesty. It was partly frozen and partly not frozen. But I didn’t see any ducks around. ” (154). Finally, Holder’s state of being is defined by the lagoon, not frozen, not unfrozen. He is exactly that, in a transition between childhood and adulthood, half frozen and half not, the ducks in the pond being an everlasting symbol for the reluctance he shows to transition to adulthood, and his futile attempts to slow the ineviTABLE process Of maturity.
Cite this Catcher in the Rye ducks in the pond Symbolism
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