The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Ossenburger and Death
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
(Click the symbolism infographic to download.)
Old Ossenburger is the wealthy alumnus who gave Pencey money to construct buildings. Where’d he get that money? A chain of bargain funeral parlors:
He made a pot of dough in the undertaking business after he got out of Pencey. What he did, he started these undertaking parlors all over the country that you could get members of your family buried for about five bucks apiece. You should see old Ossenburger. He probably just shoves them in a sack and dumps them in the river. (3.1)
Nice. That’s just another reminder that Holden’s entire world is built around phonies who, if they’re not trying to cheapen death, are trying to pretend it doesn’t happen.