A literary symbol is something, often an object, that stands for a significant concept or series of ideas. Sometimes it is emblematic of the values of the characters. Some of the most important symbols in The Catcher in the Rye are outlined in the following sections.Pencey Prep and Elkton Hills are examples of institutions that serve as symbols. For Holden, the schools represent the phony, cruel world of those who run them. Even the advertisements for Pencey Prep are misleading. They feature "some hot shot guy on a horse" performing equestrian feats. Holden says he has never even seen a horse at Pencey. The school's motto is equally repulsive to Holden: "Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men." Holden can think of perhaps two boys who fit that description, and they probably came to Pencey that way.
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