Exploring The Catcher in the Rye
: Stumbling in the Dark
Ducks in Central Park South
As it happens,
the cold world cares for them. People were feeding them, and even
though I had no food on me, a few ducks followed me partly around the pond.
(Pages 13, 60, 81, and 153.)
You can see that when I went, there were quite a few ducks in the pond in
Central Park South. The weather was about
40 degrees Fahrenheit, so no ice. I never saw much significance
to the ducks in the book before. Seeing them, I felt I did. They are adults
living in a cold world, finding a way to get by. They don't
become obnoxious, they stay pretty and rather nice.
I walked around the pond. It wasn't entirely possible because there
is a wilderness area blocked off by fences in one big bend to the northwest. The
fences go into the water, so you couldn't follow around the edge if
you wanted to (unless you didn't mind getting very, very wet!).
There was a middle aged guy sitting on a bench watching the ducks.
There was a youngish guy seriously engrossed by a squirrel.
This means that Holden is not alone valuing the animals in the park. There are
lots of fat gray squirrels
in the park who are not too
shy around people. There are also lots of little birds and pigeons
that eat scraps. I ate some pastries outside the art museum, on
the steps, and tossed them crumbs. There is a guy whose job is to sweep
up such scraps, too!
That reminds me. The birds I fed were pigeons.
The white birds in the distance here are sea gulls.
Also, I think that the white building just south
of the pond (seen here as directly beyond the pond) is the Plaza Hotel.
I felt that seeing the ducks in the city was similar to seeing
in the city. It was kind of odd to see them, and they are so calm
and hopeful with a natural understanding. They don't seem to notice that
they are not
quite members of the city. I sense that we all have in ourselves, somewhere,
a natural, sophisticated wisdom or understanding.
The ducks survive, we'll survive. The ducks say, "don't worry -- you'll die
of something, there are no guarantees -- but you have an innate understanding
of all of this, it's fine." To me, Holden was instinctively
finding satisfactory role models. The ducks aren't
phony or anything terrible.
I feel that this is why Holden just had to find the ducks.