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Catcher in the Rye

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Ducks and Holden's Development

CATCHR-0IVGFE

Read the passage below and consider how J.D. Salinger develops and advances the reader's knowledge of Holden in the first chapter of the novel:

I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go. I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.

With respect to how the author orchestrates Holden's character development, what does Salinger achieve by ascribing Holden a preoccupation with the Central Park ducks?

A

By detailing Holden's preoccupation with the disappearance of the ducks in Central Park, Salinger heightens the reader's awareness of Holden's budding identity crisis. Holden's urgent need to know where the ducks flee to emphasizes his own fantasy of becoming a recluse and executing his own disappearance.

B

By revealing Holden's interest in wanting to know where the ducks in Central Park go during the winter, Salinger adds to the reader's understanding of Holden and the way in which his character is defined by a desire to render everything in the world frozen and unchanging. When Holden says he is troubled by the feeling that he has changed every time he returns to the lagoon to see the ducks, Salinger establishes Holden's fear of change as well.

C

Salinger uses Holden's preoccupation with the ducks' disappearance as a symbolic parallel to Holden's struggle to understand his Allie's disappearance from the world. In constructing this parallel, Salinger further develops Holden's character by conveying Holden's unremitting grief over his brother's death.

D

Holden’s curiosity about where the ducks seek refuge when their habitat becomes inhospitable in winter is twofold. It reveals an earnest, more juvenile side to his character, and the ducks' perseverance in the face of an inhospitable environment also resonates with Holden’s feelings of displacement.

E

The ducks function as a metaphor for Allie. Holden's preoccupation for where they go when the pond freezes over is really a stand-in for the existential horror he experiences when wondering what happens when we die.