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Symbolism Comparison - The Simple Gift & The Catcher in the

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Eileen Truong

on 27 March 2015

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Transcript of Symbolism Comparison - The Simple Gift & The Catcher in the

The Simple Gift Symbols
Westfield Creek:

Allie's Baseball Glove
Allie's glove is basically a symbol of Allie. Holden always refers back to the glove and it always brings him to the past, making him grieve more and more on Allie's death. Though it puts him into a zone of depression, when he wears it, it brings him a sense of comfort.

Holden often wears the hat backwards, this is significant as it is the catcher in baseball who wears his hat backwards. As the hat is a symbol of Holden's individuality it is also linked to his personality. This is proven true when he tells Ackley that it is "a people shooting hat" (pg.19) stating that he criticizes or "shoots" most people down, or simply meaning that he is very judgemental towards others. The red colour of the hat also symbolises Holden's anger and represents his and Phoebe's hair color.
Symbolism Comparison - The Simple Gift & The Catcher in the Rye -- Eileen Truong
Westfield Creek is the lake that Billy always went to, he read books and thought of it as his "favourite classroom" (pg. 6) The creek symbolizes Billy's comfort and happiness as he thought of it as a place of comfort and a place where he could be himself, be alone and enjoy his spare time. The lake is a place where Billy escapes his abusive and ignorant father and strangers.
The Key
The key symbolises Billy and Caitlin moving on from their past life. Old Bill gave them the key to show that he, himself is also moving on. The key is probably the most important symbol of the book, it reveals itself at the end when Old Bill hands Billy the key.
"I reach behind for Billy's hand
and we walk inside." pg.179. This is Caitlin narrating, when she says "we walk inside", it symbolises them walking into the future, starting their life again and beginning their lives again.
The food symbolises simple gifts of kindness, care and affection for others. When Billy came over to Old Bill's carriage every morning to give him a breakfast of coffee and some food, it symbolises that Billy is very affectionate and caring towards other people, especially Old Bill. The food symbolises that Billy is willing to share his belongings and give to others who have less than him.
Carriage & Train
Carriage 1864, the carriage that Billy lives in during his first days in Bendarat is Billy's place of comfort. In his first days in Bendarat, Billy was very uncomfortable and would not adapt to the location in the carriage. But as he grew into the carriage and got used to it, the carriage acted as a place of comfort and ease for Billy as he lived alone.

As for the train, Billy got onto the train, not knowing where it was going to take him to or where it was heading. The train is a symbol of direction, it represents where Billy was going to go and where his life as a lone teenager was going to lead him.
The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye was an adult, now young adult novel written by Jerome David Salinger and was first published in 1951.

The Simple Gift
The Simple Gift is a short young adult verse novel written by Steven Herrick and published in 2000.

The book's plot follows a sixteen year old teenager, named Bill who runs away from his father's home and goes in search of a better life and a new start. Billy ends up in Bendarat, where he meets another older hobo also named Bill and a wealthy teenage girl named Caitlin.
Throughout the story and its events, we find that what makes life a good one, is in fact the most simple things.

The story's plot covers over a span of three days of Holden's life. Holden is a sixteen year old teenager who has failed every high school he has attended, and is grieving from his younger brother, Allie's death. Holden Caulfield thinks of everything around him as phony, fake and is judgemental towards almost everything and everyone he meets. The book tells us of Holden's struggles to fit in with the rest of society and how he believes that children should never have to lose their innocence once they reach a mature age. He believes he can be the catcher in the rye, meaning that he could stop the children from entering the corrupted adult world.
The mitt is one of Holden's most treasured and significant possessions as it had Allie's poem written on it so that he could read it so he wouldn't get bored during the baseball game. Holden said that Jane "was the only one, outside my family, that I ever showed Allie's baseball mitt to' (pg. 70)

Revealing that he is desperately trying to reach out to someone and try build a stable relationship with someone.
The Red Hunting Hat
Holden's red hunting hat symbolizes and represents his identity and confidence. From the text, it seems that with it on, he can do his business straightforwardly. But without it, he seems rather bashful and insecure.
When Phoebe gave him the red hunting hat at the end of the book, Holden describes it as "-it damn near killed me -" (pg.190), meaning that he was shocked and astonished by her action. This symbolizes that after Holden gave Phoebe the hat whilst telling her he would move to the rural area, she gave it back to him, telling him indirectly that he is strong enough and has the confidence to stay back and stand up to what has to come in the future.
The Ducks and Central Park Lake
The ducks at the lake symbolizes Holden. Holden constantly asks his taxi drivers where the ducks go during the winter, when in fact, he's asking the driver where he, himself should go. Whether it be to move on or back to the past.
From this, we could say that Holden wants to, as Mr Antolini put it: "were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with." (pg.169). This is implying that New York city isn't the right place for Holden and that he really is looking for a more rural and wild place to live.
The Carousel's Gold Ring and Key
"It was partly frozen and partly not frozen." (pg.139). Holden narrates this as he passes the lake. Having the lake transitioning between half frozen and half not frozen, this symbolises Holden transitioning from childhood to adulthood. He would be transitioning slowly as a frozen lake would take a while to melt.
The lake also symbolizes time, Holden wants to "freeze" his world and time, and preserve his childhood, the ducks would symbolize Allie. Allie is dead therefore frozen in time, Holden keeps reminding himself and grieving Allie once he mentions the ducks.
The Hill and the Train
A carousel's gold ring is rather hard to try grab and get a hold of. Usually, if a rider were to grab hold of the ring, they get some sort of prize. This gold ring symbolizes dreams, hope and determination. It is a huge step for Holden to accept that kids will grab for the gold ring, as Phoebe did, and adults must let them. "If they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it." (pg.190). It is part of life and a part of growing up and moving on.
In The Simple Gift, the key represents Billy and Caitlin moving on from their old lives and starting a fresh new start. "I reach behind for Billy's hand and we walk inside." (pg.179). This relates with the carousel's gold ring as both of them symbolize their characters moving on.
For Holden, he is moving on from his past and from his grief of Allie. Holden is going to move on from his childhood, grow up and enter adulthood. For Billy and Caitlin, they are moving on, into a life where they are together, not with his abusive dad or her wealthy parents.
At the start of Catcher in the Rye, Holden stands on top of a hill, watching the Pencey football game take place down hill. This hill symbolizes direction, just like the train, Holden is wondering where he should go. He is on top of a hill, not knowing where to go because there are so many directions in which you can go from a hilltop.
At the start of The Simple Gift, Billy jumped onto a cargo train after he left his home, not knowing where it was taking him, but wishing that it would take him far from his father's home and somewhere better to stay. The train symbolizes direction, Billy chose a random train, the train he was going to hitch a ride on, rode him to Bendarat where his story continues.

Both symbols in each of the books represent direction, it is implying that both main characters are searching for a place to go after they have left their previous place. In Holden's case, he just got expelled from Pencey High School and doesn't know where to go afterwards. In Billy's case, he just left his abusive father's home, not knowing where he would go.
Lord of the Flies and the Red Hunting Hat
"and I settle down
with a book about these kids
stranded on a deserted island
and some try to live right
but the others go feral
and I'm there, on the island,
trying to decide
whose side I'm on.
And then it hits me.
I'd go off alone."

Billy reads a book at Bendarat's library, he read the book: Lord of the Flies, he questions which side he would join on the island. But he concludes it saying he would go off alone, “because you can’t trust those who break the rules and you certainly can’t trust those who make the rules” (pg.23), implying his isolation in society through the metaphor “deserted island.”
The red hunting hat connects to this because it symbolizes Holden's individuality, his isolation and alienation from the society. Billy is saying that he is a hobo, loner and outsider in Bendarat's society through the "Lord of the Flies".
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