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Callen, C - ducks in the park, period 4

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Neil Sullivan

on 23 May 2014

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Transcript of Callen, C - ducks in the park, period 4

Holden Tries to Get His Ducks in a Row
An Analysis of Symbolism in

The Catcher in the Rye

by Carina Callen
"The funny thing is, though, I was sort of thinking of something else while I shot the bull... I was wondering if [the lagoon] would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where the ducks would go." (p. 13)
The duck symbol in
is frequently mentioned, but never fully explained in the text. It's true meaning is up for interpretation.
Several different meanings for the ducks have been proposed
The first time this symbol is introduced, it doesn't appear to have any real "meaning" attached to it; it only appears to be an example of Holden's quirky, illogical way of thinking and tendency to go off-topic and focus on small details.
His wandering mind is similar to a child's.
"'You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? ...By and chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks when it gets all frozen over?'
...He turned around and looked at me like I was a madman. 'What're ya tryna do, bud?' he said. 'Kid me?'" (p. 60)
Holden's childishness and fixation on trivial matters begins to annoy those around him who don't hold meaning to these things the way he does.
It becomes apparent that the ducks have special meaning for Holden, that other people don't see
"I stopped having a conversation with him, if he was going to get so damn touchy about it. But he started it up again himself. He turned all the way around again, and said, 'The
don't go no place. They stay right where they are, the fish. Right in the goddam lake.'
'The fish - that's different. The fish is different. I'm talking about the
,' I said.
ferent about it? Nothin's
ferent about it... It's tougher for the
, the winter and all, than it is for the ducks, for Chrissake... They live right
the goddam ice. It's their nature, for Chrissake. They get frozen right in one position for the whole winter.'" (p. 82)
Holden's childishness is once again rejected by an adult who doesn't understand the ducks' relevance.
Horwitz's explanation of the fish's ability to survive the winter and adapt to their surroundings refers back to Holden's inability to adapt.
"...I started walking over to the park. I figured I'd go by that little lake and see what the hell the ducks were doing, see if they were around or not... then something terrible happened just as I got into the park. I dropped old Phoebe's record."

"...I didn't see any damn ducks around. I walked all around the whole damn lake - I damn near fell
once, in fact - but I didn't see a single duck.
...Finally I sat down on this bench, where it wasn't so goddamn dark. Boy, I was still shivering like a bastard... I thought probably I'd get pneumonia and die. I started picturing millions of jerks coming to my funeral and all." (p.153-4)
At this point, things are going downhill for Holden - the record he bought for his sister shatters, symbolizing his sanity starting to break. The ducks, the reason he came to the park, are not there, because they are adapting to survive, which Holden cannot do.
He sits and begins to ponder about his death, depression
He cannot escape growing up.
thanks for watching
The ducks necessity to deal with a harsh environment and drastic changes is symbolic of Holden's predicament.
Holden's confusion at where they go could be symbolic of his search for a safe haven in a busy, everchanging world.
Ducks are comparable to people, and how they can still go about their lives with such incredible difficulties they experience, and how they deal with this
Holden wonders "where the ducks go", and he doesn't know how to deal with problems in his life.
Obsession with the ducks can also represent his struggle with growing up, he wants things to stay the same, but he must adapt to survive.
Ducks represent hope: though they disappear in winter, they always come back. Tough times will happen, but you can get through them!!!
***The duck symbolism -> symbolism of ice.
Ice starts from the outer edges of the pond, freezing inward until everything is frozen over and the ducks must leave. This represents everything in Holden's life that he is trying to avoid but must inevitably confront, as it approaches him more and more.
Many times when the ducks are brought up, ice is present.
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