The Brass Ring and the Merry-Go-Round.


grab the brass ring quote

  “It’s not enough to reach for the brass ring. You must also enjoy the merry-go-round.                                         

…Julie Andrews



brass ring one

J. D. Salinger wrote about the brass ring and a carousel (merry-go-round) in his 1951 novel…


The Catcher in the Rye


Carousels typically had a small brass or iron ring that was located close to the edge of the revolving ride. The ring was attached to a dispenser and could be grabbed by a carousel rider. On most carousels, there was just one valuable brass ring. The brass ring could then be exchanged for a prize such as a free ride or a perhaps a stuffed animal.



brass ring three


Therefore…the term “grab the brass ring” became a popular phrase. The phrase was also used in the late 19th century. Even than, when most people heard “grabbing the brass ring”, they believed that the words meant to go out for the very best possible solution for any situation…to live a full and successful life without fear.

In Catcher in the Rye, Salinger evidently was under assumption that “grabbing the brass ring” represented a hope for a bright future and possibly the dream for a bright future. He insinuated that to grab a brass ring might be dangerous and that people would be taking a chance to try to get it. Many adults might be afraid to put out the effort to “grab the brass ring”. Would you be afraid?


Salinger asserted that children would most assuredly want to take a chance on grabbing the ring…without fear and that they would be anxious to take on the challenge. An interpretation of Salinger’s words…


Adults must allow children to try for the brass ring…whatever the results might be. Taking chances is an important part of life and more directly…an  important part of growing up. Do you agree?


brass ring six



6 thoughts on “The Brass Ring and the Merry-Go-Round.

  1. I never really knew where that saying came from! I do think children sometimes teach us as adult how to grab for the brass ring. Kids an be fearless and if we could remember how to be fearless mixed with our life experience we would be unstoppable!

    Liked by 1 person

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