The Catcher in the Rye

The Ducks in the Lagoon in Central Park Symbol Analysis

The Ducks in the Lagoon in Central Park Symbol Icon

Holden’s fixation on the ducks in the Central Park lagoon represents his fear of change. When he worries about where the ducks go during the wintertime, he finds himself unsettled by the idea that they have to alter their lives in order to survive. What he fails to realize, though, is that they aren’t altering their lives, since seeking out warmer environments is simply part of their migration pattern and, thus, doesn’t represent any kind of change for them. In fact, that the ducks always return to the lagoon in warmer weather should actually comfort Holden, since it suggests that certain things really do stay the same even if change is an inherent part of life. Nevertheless, Holden is too concentrated on the idea that the ducks have to adapt in order to stay alive, so he remains unable to see the flaws in his thinking. In turn, the ducks become an embodiment of the tunnel-vision Holden gets when he starts to obsess about change and the future.

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The Ducks in the Lagoon in Central Park Symbol Timeline in The Catcher in the Rye

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Ducks in the Lagoon in Central Park appears in The Catcher in the Rye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
Phoniness Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...that he doesn’t even have to focus on what he’s saying, so he thinks about the ducks that congregate in a lagoon in Central Park, wondering where they go during the winter. (full context)
Chapter 9
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
...to a place called the Edmont Hotel. On the way, he asks the driver where the ducks in the Central Park lagoon go in the winter, but the driver thinks he’s joking and gets annoyed. Undeterred, Holden... (full context)
Chapter 12
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
...Ernie’s, Holden strikes up a conversation with his cab driver, Horwitz. When he asks about the ducks in the Central Park lagoon , Horwitz becomes angry at the stupidity of his question, shouting that the fish have... (full context)
Chapter 20
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Holden walks to Central Park to check on the ducks in the lagoon. On his way, he drops the record he bought for Phoebe and... (full context)