The Catcher in the Rye

The Museum of Natural History Symbol Icon

If the ducks in Central Park represent Holden’s fear of change, then the Museum of Natural History represents the comfort he takes in the idea of constancy or stasis. He has been visiting the museum ever since he was a child, and though he himself has changed, he knows he can count on the displays staying the same. In this way, then, the Museum of Natural History becomes one small aspect of his life that isn’t subject to the relentless march of time.

The Museum of Natural History Quotes in The Catcher in the Rye

The The Catcher in the Rye quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Museum of Natural History. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Phoniness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown edition of The Catcher in the Rye published in 2001.
Chapter 16 Quotes

The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole, with their pretty antlers and their pretty, skinny legs, and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket. Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you.

Related Characters: Holden Caulfield (speaker), Phoebe Caulfield
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Museum of Natural History Symbol Timeline in The Catcher in the Rye

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Museum of Natural History appears in The Catcher in the Rye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 16
Phoniness Theme Icon
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...helps her tighten them as she informs him that Phoebe is most likely at the Museum of Natural History , since the classes in their school have been taking turns going there on the... (full context)
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Holden thinks about how comforting it is that the displays in the Museum of Natural History are frozen in time. He fondly remembers the fieldtrips he took here as a kid... (full context)
Phoniness Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Despite his nostalgic thoughts about the museum , Holden can’t bring himself to go inside when he arrives. Suddenly, the idea of... (full context)