The Catcher in the Rye The ducks
"I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over," notes Holden in the second chapter of the novel. After that, he questions nearly every taxi driver about it and finally ends up by the lagoon himself one night in contemplation (chapter 20). The question is really one for himself, and mirrors a concern of Mr. Antolini's [see Quotes]: where does a person go when his environment can no longer support him? The desperation with which Holden attacks this question in the later questions mirrors the desperation he feels to find someplace where he can belong. In the end, Holden realizes that the ducks go away and almost decides to himself. However, Holden finishes the novel with an implied commitment to changing his environment rather than fleeing it, a decision much nobler than the one the ducks chose.