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It is not through mysticism but through love that the Salinger hero at last re-enters the world. From until , J. Salinger published sixteen short stories, several of the same slick, predictable character as the stories he wrote for popular magazines during the Second World War.
Little in this brief account indicates the scope of the Glass series, but it sets the stage for the rejection of mysticism as a solution to the contemporary spiritual dilemma. De Daumier-Smith is the fanciful pseudonym adopted by a somewhat typical Salinger isolatoe who brashly attempts to create a new image of himself with which he can confront a world from which he suddenly feels disaffiliated.
Jean narrates his own story, and the most pertinent fact about his childhood is that he had never truly loved anyone but his mother. Shortly after her death, he moves to New York with his stepfather. The isolation which De Daumier-Smith suffers is underscored by the fact that we never learn his real name; he adopts a bogus identity and a preposterously contrived set of credentials in order to teach students whom he will never see in a French art school run by two Japanese.
When Jean reveals to the Yoshotos that he is a student of Buddhism, they inform him that they are Presbyterians. However ambitiously ingratiating he becomes to his employers, his loneliness only increases. What seems to offer Jean consolation is his discovery of naive beauty in the crude but talented paintings of Sister Irma of the Order of St.
Like the precocious members of the Glass family, Jean has been a student of comparative religions, and his study has at least partially prepared him for the epiphany which greets him and flashes like the sun into his dark night. Blinded and very frightened—I had to put my hand on the glass to keep my balance. The thing lasted for no more than a few seconds. This situation is typical for the modern hero, to whom revelation or epiphany comes as a sudden intuitive flash, suggesting in part that visions of order or meaning are not available through reason. While Muriel is talking to her mother and trying to reassure her that Seymour has had no more destructive urges, Seymour is on the beach with Sybil Carpenter.
But once they get in, they behave like pigs. While Seymour is never a fully realized mystic like Teddy, it is inconsistent to explain away his suicide as despair over the idea of achieving satori. Seymour has already rejected satori because it leads him out of the world in which he feels he must live, and his rejection is overt and conscious. His life has been filled with one transcendent experience after another, with visions and intense spiritual moments which affirm his ability to achieve satori.
He was about six or seven, and he went under the seat to avoid watching a scary scene. I put my hand on his head. Certain heads, certain colors and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too. Charlotte once ran away from me, outside the studio, and I grabbed her dress to stop her, to keep her near me.
A yellow cotton dress I loved because it was too long for her. I still have a lemon-yellow mark on the palm of my right hand. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.
Unable to resign a quest for a miraculous spiritual perfection, and simultaneously unequipped to join the world of mere possibility, Seymour chose suicide. No appeal to a spiritual absolute and no transcendent spiritual experience is a wholly successful alternative. In his later stories Salinger turns his attention to other stances which man can make in an absurd world to give his life meaning.
He had met the girl while stationed in England for special D-Day training, and the loneliness which he experienced before their meeting is idiomatic to the Salinger hero. Later X is saved by a small package lying among the clutter of his desk, for the package represents a gesture of love which directly opposes the squalor of his world. Franny and Zooey are the youngest brother and sister of Seymour Glass, and part of the urban menagerie of sensitiveness and titanesque idiosyncrasy around which Salinger is constructing his contemporary saga.
To understand how Franny and Zooey offer a resolution which Seymour and other mystically inclined heroes could not accomplish, it is necessary to know something of the relationships of this sprawling family. In spiritual training Buddy was closer to Seymour than any other member of the family, and while he hardly seems well adjusted, he is less clearly psychotic than Seymour.
Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man. Please be happy happy happy with your beautiful Muriel. This is an order. Of Waker we know no more than the fact that he has presumably found peace through becoming a Roman Catholic priest.
J.D. Salinger (Bloom's Modern Critical Views), New Edition
We do learn, however, that Walt was killed in the Army of Occupation in Japan following the explosion of a Japanese stove which he was packing for his commanding officer. Eloise, who was once engaged to Walt, feels she has been destroyed by the exurbanite world her husband Lew represents and when she refers to his favorite author as the unheard-of L. When Salinger first introduces Franny Glass, she is a twenty-year-old college girl and summer-stock actress; and her older brother Zooey, who guides her through a religious crisis to the absurd love stance, is a television actor in his late twenties who suffers from an ulcer and, like Holden Caulfield, from profound disgust with the world of shams in which he lives.
He is rereading a letter from Franny which creates for the reader the impression of a typical college girl enthusiastically if somewhat vaguely in love. She hopes there will be an opportunity for dancing, that the weekend will not involve tiresome receiving lines, and that her spelling is improving. When Franny steps from the train the picture given by her letter seems to be elaborately confirmed: Franny was among the first of the girls to get off the train, from a car at the far, northern end of the platform.
J. D. Salinger Bloom's Major Short Story Writers / Syncia PDF Stack
Lane spotted her immediately, and despite whatever it was he was trying to do with his face, his arm that shot up into the air was the whole truth. Franny saw it, and him, and waved extravagantly back. He remembered that once, in a borrowed car, after kissing Franny for a half hour or so, he had kissed her coat lapel, as though it were a perfectly desirable, organic extension of the person herself. Her efforts at presenting a typical girl-on-a-football- weekend appearance are part of a last stand in which she tries to face the public world.
But just so tiny and meaningless and—sad-making. But that sounds so flat. That one always is alone. Do you know— It no longer seems worth while to speak to anyone. The only thing that Franny can think of worth concerning herself over is something which interests Lane only superficially—a small, pea-green book entitled The Way of a Pilgrim. The book has presumably been suggested to her by a professor, and she comes increasingly to see its message as her answer. The book seems momentarily to restore her control. Rather than urging the classics on the youngest children in the family, as they had urged them on the twins and Boo Boo, Buddy and Seymour decided to direct Franny and Zooey toward what is known in Zen as no-knowledge.
Suzuki says somewhere that to be in a state of pure consciousness—satori—is to be with God before he said, Let there be light. Seymour and I thought it might be a good thing to hold back this light from you and Franny at least as far as we were able , and all the many lower, more fashionable lighting effects—the arts, sciences, classics, languages—till you were both able at least to conceive of a state of being where the mind knows the source of all light. In this brief Taoist allegory Chiu-fang Kao has recently been retained by his Duke as a horse buyer, and he returns with the news that he has found a superlative horse—a dun-colored mare.
Ah, then, he is worth ten thousand of me put together.
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There is no comparison between us. What Kao keeps in view is the spiritual mechanism. In making sure of the essential, he forgets the homely details; intent on the inward qualities, he loses sight of the external.
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He sees what he wants to see, and not what he does not want to see. He looks at the things he ought to look at, and neglects those that need not be looked at. So clever a judge of horses is Kao, that he has it in him to judge something better than horses. He does everything else Seymour ever did—or tries to. Glass blinked her eyes, just once, and Zooey instantly looked away from her face. He bent over and fished his razor out of the wastebasket.
I swear to you, I could murder them both without even batting an eyelash. The great teachers. The great emancipators. My God.