“The ducks. Do you know, by any chance? I mean does somebody come around in a truck or something and take them away, or do they fly away by themselves – go south or something?”
Old Horwitz turned all the way around and looked at me. He was a very impatient-type guy. He wasn’t a bad guy, though.
“How the hell should I know?” he said.
“How the hell should I know a stupid thing like that?”
“Well, don’t get sore about it,” I said. He was sore about it or something.
“Who’s sore? Nobody’s sore.”
I stopped having a conversation with him, if he was going to get so damn touchy about it. But he started it up again himself. He turned all the way around again, and said, “The fish don’t go no place. They stay right where they are, the fish. Right in the goddam lake.”
[…] “Listen,” he said. “If you was a fish, Mother Nature’d take care of you, wouldn’t she? Right? You don’t think them fish just die when it gets to be winter, do ya?”
“No, but – ”
“You’re goddam right they don’t,” Horwitz said, and drove off like a bat out of hell. He was about the touchiest guy I ever met. Everything you said made him sore.
– J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye. Chapter 12. Holden finds someone else willing to discuss his interest in the ducks in Central Park. He is terrified of change, but the ducks represent a change that is not permanent. They leave in the winter, but they return again in the spring. He wants to understand this to help him deal with the painfulness of growing up.