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What Do The Ducks Mean In The Catcher In The Rye?

The ducks in The Catcher in the Rye are a symbol of innocence. Holden’s thoughts on the ducks, and what they represent to him, change throughout the book. At first he saw them as an escape from reality and later as something he could never have again.

The first time Holden sees the ducks is when he is at Central Park. He describes them as “looking kind of like they had been there all along” (p. 71). Holden feels that they are not a part of his world because they are not affected by it or him. He believes that they exist outside of life and death, which gives him hope for his own future.

Later on, Holden sees the ducks again at Biff’s apartment building in New York City. This time he notes how dirty they look and how their feathers are ruffled up from being stepped on or hit by cars or buses (p. 273).

Holden then realizes that despite being considered innocent, these birds have experienced pain and suffering just like everyone else does in this world and therefore cannot be trusted to provide solace from it anymore (pp. 274-75).

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Last modified: August 1, 2022