Exploring The Catcher in the Rye   :   album / tour   :   Stumbling in the Dark

big city ducks Ducks in Central Park South
(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.

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.
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 little kids 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.