Born if her phone had been ringing continually
Born on January 1, 1919, Jerome David Salinger was to become one of Americasgreatest contemporary authors. In 1938 Salinger briefly attended Ursinus Collegein Pennsylvania where he wrote a column, Skipped Diploma, which featuredmovie reviews for his college newspaper. Salinger made his writing debut when hepublished his first short story, The Young Folks, in Whit BurnettsStory magazine (French, xiii). He was paid only twenty-five dollars.
In 1939, atthe age of 20, Salinger had not acquired any readers. He later enrolled in acreative writing class at Columbia University. Salinger was very much interestedin becoming an actor and a playwright, which was quite odd because he wouldlater in life become a recluse (Wenke, 3). Salinger adjusted his writing styleto fit the literary marketplace. He was writing for money and began writing formagazines like Good Housekeeping and Mademoiselle. Many of Salingerscharacters have unique character traits. Salinger presents a number ofstories that consider characters who become involved in degrading, often phonysocial contexts, states a major critic (Wenke, 7).
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These characters are oftenyoung and have experienced a lot of emotional turmoil. They have been rejectedby society and mainly categorized as misfits. This alienation of thepersonality is often viewed as a sign of weakness by society when in fact theoutcasts ultimately gain strength from their experiences as shown in NineStories, The Catcher in the Rye, and Franny and Zooey. Salinger is telling atale of the human condition in its reality through his novels. Nine Stories is acollection of short stories of people who are uncertain of the next path to takein life.
They are lonely, needy, and searching for love. One of these stories,A Perfect Day for Bananafish, is the story of a young couple who try tounderstand their life together and the true meaning of love. Seymour Glass hasjust been released from the Army Hospital and he is unable to adjust to lifewith his crass wife Muriel amidst the lavish and vulgar atmosphere of theirpost-war second honeymoon (Gwynn & Blotner, 19). It has often been calledthe loveless tunnel of love.
Salinger portrays Muriel in the first part ofthe story as superficial. She believes that everything and everyone operates onher time: She was a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing. Shelooked as if her phone had been ringing continually ever since she had reachedpuberty. Muriel has an indifferent attitude about life.
She seems simple andvery insecure. Muriel finds it funny that her husband calls her MissSpiritual Tramp of 1948. This tells the reader that she lacks self- esteem.Her simple attitude shows when she is talking to her mother on the phone aboutgoing to Bingo one night: Anyway, after Bingo he and his wife asked me if Iwouldnt like to join them for a drink.
So I did. His wife was horrible. Youremember that awful dinner dress we saw in Bonwits window? The one you saidthat youd have to have a tiny, tiny.
Muriel implies that she disliked thelady because of what she was wearing. She alienates herself from society bybelieving that she is better that everyone else. Because of Murielspersonality, Seymour cannot confide in her or feel any love in his marriage.This is why he turns to the little girl at the beach for companionship. Seymourfinds a friend and a listener in Sybil. But the friendship of Sybil cannot mendSeymours broken heart. He gains some strength in himself when he finds afriend in Sybil, but he cannot seem to get past his failed marriage.
Seymour isso desperate for love that he commits suicide: Then he went over to one of thepieces of luggage, opened it, and from under a pile of shorts and undershirts hetook out an Ortgies caliber 7.65 automatic. He released the magazine, looked atit, then reinserted it. He cocked the piece.
Then he went over and sat down onthe unoccupied twin bed, looked at the girl, aimed the pistol and fired a bulletthrough his right temple. Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut is a story about ayoung woman who tries to make sense out of all the confusion in her life. Eloisefinds a loyal and trustworthy friend in Mary Jane. They are on the same path inlife.
Salinger suggests that they have stayed friends for so long becauseneither of them graduated from college. Eloise left college because she wascaught with a soldier in the elevator. Mary Jane left college because she was tomarry a soldier in jail.
Eloise feels like an outsider in her own family. Shemakes a comment about her daughter looking more like her husband and his mother.She says that when the three of them are together they look like triplets.Ramona, Elosies daughter, appears to be the only person who is free to be whoshe wants to be.
Ramona has a childlike, spontaneous imaginative power and sheis on the verge of these qualities being taken from her by her mother who isreferred to as Uncle Wiggily (Bloom, 83). Uncle Wiggily represents a personthat is standing in the way of Ramona being her true self. In essence, Eloiseenvies her daughter Ramona. Ramona is the one who does as she pleases, such asscratching herself and picking her nose at any time. Ramona is the stronger ofthe two, mentally.
Eloise resents Ramonas imaginary friend Jimmy Jimmerono.One critic explains, But Jimmy stands in the same relation to Ramona as Waltdoes to Eloisea symbol of the secret image of love, unhampered by awfulreality(Gwynn & Blotner, 22). Walt is Eloises old love. Ramonadisplays Jimmys physical characteristics as being unique, while Walt isunique because of his humor and tenderness. At the end of the story Eloise hadstill not been saved.
When she is drunk she feels free to be herself and expressherself. Eloise learns the true meaning of love with her past experience withWalt. She learns to love herself and is willing to move on in life knowing thatit will get better with time. Salingers greatest masterpiece, The Catcher inthe Rye, has served as a firestorm for controversy and debate (Lomazoff,1). The way that Salinger portrayed Holden Caulfield has been a factor in thecontroversial nature of this book.
Holden is a strong-minded person withstrong-minded opinions of the world and the people. His uncanny personalitymakes the reader want to question his sanity. Holden has reached a point in hislife where he doesnt care anymore. He has flunked out of three Pennsylvaniaprep schools. This symbolizes that Holden is not truly ready for the adult worldeven though he believes that he is.
He refuses to work to his full potential.Holden is a little boy playing grown-up. He is self-centered and very arrogant:Then I tried to get them in a little intelligent conversation, but it waspractically impossible, you had to twist their arms.
You could hardly tell whichwas the stupidest of the three of them. He puts other peoples social behaviordown as if to say that he is of higher intelligence, They didnt invite meto sit down at their tablemostly because they were ignorantbut I sat downanyway. This shows Holdens impatient nature. Another odd quality ofHoldens is that he believes that the world we live in and the people that welive with are phony. An early example of this in the novel is when Old Spenceris telling Holden about how great his parents are and Holden responds in anegative fashion: Grand there is a word I really hate.
Its a phony. Icould just puke every time I hear it. The center issue of Holdens perceptionof falseness in this world is his inability to communicate with other people. Hewants to be a loner and stay by himself: I figured that I could get a job ata filling station somewhere, putting gas in other peoples cars. I didntcare what kind of job it was, though. Just so people dont know me and Idont know anybody.
I thought what Id do was, Id pretend I was one ofthose deaf mutes. That way I wouldnt have to have any god dam stupid uselessconversation with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, theyd haveto write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. Theyd get bored ashell doing that after a while, and then Id be through with havingconversations for the rest of my life. Everybodyd think I was just a poordeaf-mute bastard and theyd leave me alone Id cook all my own food, andlatter on, if I wanted to get married or something, Id meet this beautifulgirl that was also deaf-mute and wed get married.
Shed come and live in mycabin with me, and if she wanted to say something to shed have to write itdown on a piece of paper, like everybody else. Holden truly hates all thephoniness in this world that he doesnt want to communicate with anyone, evenhis soon-to-be-wife. This depicts Holdens innocence. He has his whole lifeplanned out and he believes that this is really going to happen. Holden mightthink that he is ready for adulthood but from someone elses point of view hesounds that he is very unsure of adulthood.
Holdens innocence is alsoportrayed in a more sincere fashion when he is talking to his sister, Phoebe,about a vision that he had, I keep picturing all these little kids playingsome game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids andnobodys aroundnobody big, I meanexcept me. And Im standing on theedge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if theystart to go over the cliffI mean if theyre running and they dont lookwhere they are going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. Thatsall Id do all day. Id just be the catcher in the rye and all. I knowits crazy, but thats the only Id really like to be.
I know itscrazy. Holden believes that he can save little children from all the hurt andpain in the world. Holden is really a good guy stuck in a bad world and he istrying to make the best out of all the misfortunes that come his way, but his isloosing the battle. Whereas he aims for stability and truth, the adult worldcannot survive without suspense and lies.
It is a testament to his innocence anddecent spirit that Holden would place the safety and well-being of children as agoal in his lifetime (Lomazoff, 8). This innocent trait that Holden posesmakes him to openly show his affection for his sister. He wants the best forher. Holden makes her life his first priority. When Phoebe tries to leave herschool to follow Holden, he is instantly against it. The disappointed look onPhoebes face at Holdens refusal breaks his heart. Holden takes Phoebe tothe park to make up for this.
Holdens attitude about life gradually changesas he watches Phoebe on the carrousel: I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, theway old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt sodamn happy, if you want to know the truth. I dont know why. It was just thatshe looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her bluecoat and all. When Holden promises that he would return home Phoebe becomeshappy again.
The bond between Holden and Phoebe is very strong. She is hisinspiration and he is her role model. Holden wants to do right in his life forPhoebe. He wants to be a better person for her.
Franny and Zooey is the story ofa young girl who feels alone in the world. Franny Grass suffers an emotional andspiritual breakdown while attending college. She has abandoned all of her hopesand dreams, and the only pleasure she has in life is reading from her littlepea-green book.
Loneliness is an emotional affliction that is very widespread inour society (Gelinas, 5). It affects everyone at any point of his or her lives.Franny clearly suffers from this affliction. She writes a letter to Lane Coutell,her boyfriend, telling him that she is coming out to visit him. The letter isemotional and happy, this is ironic because when Franny visits Lane she isanything but happy.
Lane meets Franny at the train station to pick her up. Thereis an immediate tension between the two because they have not seen each other inwhile. Nevertheless, they try to ignore it. When they arrive at the restaurant,Lane dominates the conversation.
He is unaware, for the most part, that Frannyhas hardly said a word. Franny accepts the idea of Lane playing a dominant rolein their relationship. She understands that they are not on equal standing.Despite this, Franny believes that she has found love with her boyfriend. Sheadores him as much as any girlfriend adores her boyfriend. Franny is oftenafraid of not being on the same level as Lane.
In one example Lane is remindingFranny of his that she met some time ago: Oh. I remember Listen, donthate me because I cant remember some person immediately. Especially when theylook like everybody else, and talk and dress and act like everybody else. Itis clearly obvious that she is afraid of not living up to his expectations.Franny doesnt see Lane as her soul mate, she is with him because of her fearof being lonely: She found herself looking at Lane as if he was a stranger, or aposter advertising a brand of linoleum, across the aisle of a subway car.
Againshe felt the trickle of disloyalty and guilty, which seemed to be the order ofthe day, and reacted to it by reaching over to cover Lanes hand with her own.Two surprises take place during dinner. Franny tells Lane that she has quitdrama at school.
Lane is shocked because he knows that Franny loves acting andshe is good at it. When Franny excuses herself the second time, she faints onthe way to the bathroom. Lane is very worries and insists that she rest. Butagain, Franny is putting Lanes needs before her own by encouraging him thatshe is okay and they could still have a nice night. The second part of the storytakes place when Franny has returned home to get some rest.
Her brother, ZooeyGlass, and their mother are very concerned about her. He believes that thelittle pea-green book that Franny has is clear foolishness. He insists on givingFranny advice on life or about any issue of the moment. Franny finds herselfstill stressed with her mother forcing her to eat chicken soup and herbrothers constant nagging.
Zooey is a straightforward person. He sees thefalse love in Frannys and Lanes relationship even though they do not.Towards the end of the novel, Franny starts to consider her brothers advice.He tells her that it is not wise to be caught up in her book.
He tells her thatshe can still be an actress and know God. In essence, he tells her that theirfamily is very different from other families, and what you decide to do withyour life determines the type of person that you are. Franny takes Zooeysadvice to heart. She finally understands who she is and begins to put her lifein perspective.
Franny now knew what to do with her life and she was content:For some minutes, before she fell into a deep, dreamless Sleep, she just layquite, smiling at the ceiling. J.D. Salinger, a master of contemporary writing,has astounded his audiences for years. The common theme expressed in many ofSalingers novels is the alienated personality. He has a way of capturing thistheme through his characters.
Due to this alienation many of these charactersexperience loneliness, unhappiness, uncertainty, and the feeling of being lost:He moves steadily away from old-fashioned stories of the sort that lead us tobelieve that life has leading characters and minor characters, important detailsand unimportant details, beginnings, middles, ends (Bryfonski, 521). Manycritics acclaim that Nine Stories and The Catcher in The Rye are Salingersmost famous and important works (Bryfonski, 521). The Glass family saga startingin Nine Stories and continuing in and ending in Franny and Zooey shows how thelack of love and the influence of society can lead to destruction unless youfind enough inner strength to rise above it. Many of Salingers characters areconnected to other fictional characters by other authors. In The Catcher in TheRye, the young Holden Caulfield is compared by critics to Huckleberry Finn: Hehas a colloquialism as marked as HucksLike Huck, Holden is neither comicalor misanthrope. He is an observer.
Unlike Huck, he makes judgements by thedozen, but these are not to be taken seriously; they are concepts (Lomazoff, 7).Holden is also compared to Hamlet but to a lesser degree; they are both nottotally in the minds. The majority of Salingers characters learn from beingalienated.
Through learning this one aspect, they gain strength from it to moveon.English Essays