Why does Holden wear the red hunting hat?

Holden wears the red hunting hat as a symbol of individuality, youthfulness, and confidence. However, he often avoids wearing the hat in public, demonstrating his fear of being condemned for his individuality. He says, “I’d put on my red hunting cap when I was in the cab, just for the hell of it, but I took it off before I checked in. I didn’t want to look like a screwball or something.” Holden wavers between a cool confidence and a fear of being different, but ultimately loves this hat and how it makes him feel. The hat even plays a symbolic role toward the end of the novel as Phoebe “took out my red hunting hat and put it on my head,” an act that seems to encourage Holden to be strong.