RE: The Catcher in the Rye help with homework Chapter 20

Chapter 20


  1. What does Holden’s wound symbolize on page 150?
  2. What is significant about Holden’s sitting on the radiator in the men’s room?
  3. Of what significance is it that Holden breaks the record he had bought for Phoebe?
  4. Does Holden find the ducks in the park when he goes there? In what ways is his discovery symbolic?
  5. Why is it particularly pathetic that there are chunks of ice in Holden’s hat?
  6. What does Holden find hypocritical about funerals?


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Does Holden find the ducks in the park when he goes there? In what ways is his discovery symbolic?

Holden’s curiosity about where the ducks go during the winter reveals a genuine, more youthful side to his character. For most of the book, he sounds like a grumpy old man who is angry at the world, but his search for the ducks represents the curiosity of youth and a joyful willingness to encounter the mysteries of the world. It is a memorable moment, because Holden clearly lacks such willingness in other aspects of his life.

The ducks and their pond are symbolic in several ways. Their mysterious perseverance in the face of an inhospitable environment resonates with Holden’s understanding of his own situation. In addition, the ducks prove that some vanishings are only temporary. Traumatized and made acutely aware of the fragility of life by his brother Allie’s death, Holden is terrified by the idea of change and disappearance. The ducks vanish every winter, but they return every spring, thus symbolizing change that isn’t permanent, but cyclical. Finally, the pond itself becomes a minor metaphor for the world as Holden sees it, because it is “partly frozen and partly not frozen.” The pond is in transition between two states, just as Holden is in transition between childhood and adulthood.

Answered on 06.06.2017.
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