Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Way of the Pilgrim

The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way

The Way of the Pilgrim is the same book that Franny always carrys around. This book is significant because she seeks spiritual solace and comfort through prayer after the suicide of her brother, Seymour. The book belonged came from her brother's room and also serves as a connection to him.

Michael Jackson's children often appeared in public wearing veils or masks.

Similar to Buddy, Michael Jackson found stardom too much and hid himself and his children from the world. For years, his children hid under veils and no one saw their faces. They were sheltered from the media and schooled by tutors (like Franny). Likewise, Buddy has "disappeared" in Franny and Zooey, and cannot be reached - even by phone.

Did You Know?

Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice

Marcia Brady (of The Brady Bunch) also had problems adjusting to life outside of acting. Similar to Franny, she harbored deep secrets that caused problems with her family. Eventually, her life spiralled out of control, leading to depression, addiction, and an eating disorder. Her book examines these troubles.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Issues to research in Franny and Zooey

      1.       Eating disorders
2.       Religion
3.       Relationships
4.       Suicide
5.       Acting
6.       Egos
7.       Education
8.       Isolation
9.       Child star complex
10.     Other child stars who battle similar issues

Child Stars who Attempted Suicide

Suicide is a prevalent theme in the novel, as Seymour kills himself. Here is a link of other stars who have attempted suicide.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Questions for J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey

Below are different kinds of questions for different kinds of readers, published by the Cathedral for All Souls.


Section I: Describing the Structure and Language of Franny and Zooey

1. Two stories rather than a novel
Franny and Zooey is not a novel, rather two stories, the second one considerably longer than the first--and we could call the second one a novella. All I want to do here is to indicate that this book is comprised of two stories that, A) stand independently, and B) combine to form a larger story.

Publication history: “Franny” and “Zooey” were published respectively in 1955 and 1957 in The New Yorker, and then published together as Franny and Zooey, the book, in 1961.

2. The different narrative points of view of the two stories
And here I just want to point out that the two stories, “Franny” and “Zooey,” are told in two different points of view. The first story, “Franny,” is told by a narrator whose identity we don’t know—a third person, omniscient narrator. The second story, “Zooey,’ is told differently—in this instance, by Buddy Glass, older brother to Franny and Zooey. Buddy identifies himself as the narrator of “Zooey” in its first pages, on pages 47-50. Question #4, below, will treat the unusual narrative point of view of “Zooey.”

3. What is the effect of the two stories standing separately, one about “Franny” and one about “Zooey”?
Another way to ask this question would be to speculate as to why Salinger published the book as two stories, rather than integrating the two stories into a novel. But let’s leave that question aside—if Salinger’s intentions can be recovered, I don’t know how to recover them. More useful to us would be to describe the effect of the structure of the book-- the emotional effect, on us. And my proposal as to that effect is as follows (I offer it as a way to invite your own proposals):

In being in her own story, by herself, in the first part of the book, in a world of Lane Coutells, Yale games, “section men”, “ego,” and so on, Franny’s vulnerability is intensified. What she’s up against she’s up against more vulnerably in not being able to face it with a Glass sibling at her side. That Franny is alone in the first story is for me part of the success of the book entire—-part of its poignancy, part also of what the book has to say about the influence of family—particularly when the family is a loving one. (And who knows, maybe for you the Glass family is less than loving…if so, I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts when we meet.)

Also, the difference in narrative point of view between the two stories, which I described in Question 2, perhaps intensifies for us our sense of Franny’s “aloneness” in the first story. To repeat, in that first story she’s being narrated by an unnamed consciousness, someone who is not connected to her. Then, when she is with her family in the second story, she’s being narrated by a member of that family--her older brother, Buddy, someone who knows her, believes in her, is rooting for her.

(Please note that the word “vulnerability,” to describe Franny, is my extrapolation. Nowhere, to my awareness, does the word appear in either story.)

What are your thoughts, here? Am I making too much of the book’s structure; am I being too fancy? Do you agree with what I’ve said above? Disagree? Please support your observations with reference to the text.

4. The narrative structure of “Zooey”--the only one of its kind, to my knowledge, in American fiction
In this question, I just want to underscore the strangeness of the narrative point of view of “Zooey.” To repeat: The story starts out as told by a first person narrator who identifies himself as “Buddy,” older brother to Franny and Zooey. Then, by the fourth page of the story, this “Buddy” tells us that “from here on in,” he’s going to refer to himself in “the third person.”

“We will [. . .] leave this Buddy Glass in the third person from here on in. At least, I see no good reason to take him out of it.” (50)

What in the world do you think is going on here? What a convoluted, head-bending, plausibility-straining way to write a story. Yet it’s the way Salinger writes it. He could have done it much more simply; he could have told both “Franny” and “Zooey” from the point of view of an unidentified, omniscient narrator. Why do you think Salinger took the more difficult course? It’s amazing, but “Zooey” is actually a first person story…all the way through!

To me, that Buddy narrates this story, but in a way that renders him impalpable, is, well, very important, and I’ll say why I think it’s important when we meet. In the meantime, what do you think?

5. The resemblance of both stories to long scenes in a modern play.
In both “Franny” and “Zooey” there’s a lot of talk about the theater. Also, both Franny and Zooey have acted, and/ or are actors. There’s also a script in “Zooey,” on p. 71, which we read as though from Zooey’s perspective. I find it interesting, perhaps telling, that the form of these stories resembles a play. What do you think about this resemblance? Do you notice it too, or is it just me?

6. Both stories feature a lot of writing, or text-within-text. What do you make of this?
In both stories you have a lot of text-within-text. Here are the five examples I see:

a) the two fully excerpted letters. In “Franny,” there is a letter from Franny to Lane, which Lane reads at the beginning of the story. In “Zooey” there’s the very long letter from Buddy to Zooey, which Zooey reads at the beginning of the story.

b) Again, the script Zooey reads in the bathtub, on p. 71

c) the excerpts from world literature transcribed by hand on the white beaverboard in what had once been Buddy’s and Seymour’s bedroom. These excerpts are on pp. 177-179.

d) The longish footnote at the bottom of pages 52 to 53 in “Zooey.” This is not an example of text-within-text; I include it because, like the examples above, it heightens your awareness that you are reading, and that this story is a written artifact.

e) Seymour’s journal entry, from Feb. 1938, written on shirt cardboard, which Zooey takes out of the desk in Seymour’s and Buddy’s bedroom, on p. 182.

Question: Why do you think F and Z is so focused on reading? Is this focus simply to show the highly literary culture of the Glass family? Or is something deeper going on here? Maybe something is being said about reading, about living your life inside of prose, or of recording, or of remembering, your life, in prose.

7. There is glamour to this story, and there is beauty to this story, and they’re different things
What do I mean by glamour? Partly it has to do with the way the characters talk—so cleverly, so gracefully, and so (for us) entertainingly. They’re funny, smart, well read; they know so much, and are moreover so responsibly aware of the problem of knowing so much, they almost qualify their sentences out of existence. And then somehow those sentences land supply on their feet. Who talks like this? I wish I could talk like this. And then there’s how talented they are—these children are so intelligent they have to be on the radio! And then there’s the physical beauty of Franny and Zooey. And the attractiveness of their class, and of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and of coming from that class, and of living in that neighborhood, yet still getting to wear your housecoat every day. There’s how enviably literary the family is, that it’s just a given that you’ll major in English at an excellent college and date a Yalie who hangs out with readers of a sensibility to refer to Rainer Maria Rilke as “that bastard.”

And then there’s the beauty of the story, which is, from my perspective, different than the glamour of the story.

Sometimes as I re-read Franny and Zooey I find myself wondering if the glamour isn’t somehow meant as a distraction from the beauty—as a red herring, in a way. Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita works in a similar way—and indeed Robbin Whittington raised this very question when we read Lolita a couple of years ago. I even wonder if this glamour-as-distraction problem isn’t a part of Zooey’s and Franny’s problem, or confusion. Thoughts?

8. The spirit of the book: “Were most of your stars out?”
The writer Adam Gopnick had a lovely remembrance of Salinger in the New Yorker soon after Salinger’s death. Gopnick concluded this remembrance with a line from another of Salinger’s long stories about the Glass family, this one entitled, “Seymour: An Introduction.” Here’s Gopnick:

In “Seymour: An Introduction,” Seymour, thinking of Van Gogh, tells Buddy that the only question worth asking about a writer is “Were most of your stars out?” (Adam Gopnick, “J. D. Salinger,” The New Yorker, February 8, 2010.)

What a great question, a great image: “Were most of your stars out?” (I love “most of.”) For me, “most of” Salinger’s stars were definitely out. How about for you? Why, or why not?

Section II: Content and Theme Questions

1. What kind of “person” or “sensibility” is narrating the “Franny” story? (And, is the sensibility narrating “Franny” similar to the one that narrates “Zooey”?)
Go back and have a look at the way the narrator of “Franny” sees and narrates Franny and Lane. What sorts of things does this narrator notice? What is this narrator’s attitude toward Lane and Franny and their particular story? The narrator here could hold lots of different attitudes toward Lane and Franny, their milieu, their moment in life, etc. That’s an obvious observation, yet one worth holding in view. There’s a certain narrative posture here that’s very special; and I’d like to talk about it when we meet.

One example of this “posture” that strikes me every time I read F & Z comes toward the end of “Franny,” when Franny is in the ladies’ room at Sickler’s. She’s in her enclosure, and without an “apparent regard” for the “suchness of her environment,” has sat down. She then places her hands over her eyes and presses, “as though to paralyze the optic nerve and drown all images into a voidlike black.” The following is the image I’d like to underscore:

“Her extended fingers, though trembling, or because they were trembling, looked oddly graceful and pretty.” (22)

What sort of personality might notice this particular detail of Franny at this particular moment? Her eyes are shut, she’s presumably in a kind of crisis; and what this narrator sees is not just her fingers, and not just that her fingers are trembling, but that, trembling, they look “oddly graceful and pretty.” Also, note the qualification, “or because they were trembling,” which effectively sets the whole image trembling, reminding us that despite the wisdom of this narrator and of his way of looking at the people he writes, there is only one of him, one, limited, mortal encounter, author to authored. The gaze here, the delicacy of consideration is…well, as I say, special, and vital/ vitalizing to this story and this book. (I’m being vague so as not to bias your sense of this narrator with my own.) How would you describe this narrator? And, is this gaze/quality of regard like the one in “Zooey”?

2. What sort of trouble is Franny in? Is she genuinely in it?
To me, Franny seems in real trouble. The trouble, as I see it, has to do with the complexity of her awareness and self-awareness. How does she seem to you?

3. A Mystical Offering, or a Love Story?
The narrator of “Zooey,” who is Buddy Glass, says of himself at the beginning of his “home movie” that he knows “the difference between a mystical story and a love story.” He continues:

“I say that my current offering isn’t a mystical story, or a religiously mystifying story, at all. I say it’s a compound, or multiple, love story, pure and complicated.” (49)

How does “Zooey” bear out Buddy’s claim that it is a “love story, pure and complicated”? How is this a love story? I think it’s easy to forget that that’s what’s going here. What are your thoughts?

4. Are these stories (in part) about talking?
The book entire is made up of three very long conversations—athletically conducted, rapturously conducted, exhaustive and exhausting conversations. I’m going to leap ahead and say that it seems to me that what this book is mainly fascinated with is talking*--with the particular way the Glass family talks to one another, and, beyond the Glasses, with the way members of a particular class and/ or social environment talks, or talked, to one another, in the middle of the last century in the northeastern United States. (By the way, I’m not at all sure this second observation is correct.) What are your thoughts?

*To be fair, what the book seems to be fascinated with before anything else is this particular family and the way they care for one another and also navigate, together and alone, modern cosmopolitan life. But the medium through which Salinger pursues those fascinations is talk, conversation. And it’s always interesting to ask of a body of writing which came first, the medium, or the content (in this case, familial love, modern life, etc.) given expression by that medium. It’s not recoverable, which came first, but wondering at that question allows for the appeal to the artist of certain of life’s forms, for sounds, shapes, rhythms, patterns--forms that take hold within him or her and lead to understandings that could not have been attained any other way.

5. Zooey: What’s Going On With Him
For me, the 40-some page exchange between Franny and Zooey is one of the more delightful I am aware of in modern American literature. Yet for Franny and Zooey the exchange is often a painful one. On this reading I was more attuned than in readings past to Zooey’s experience, in particular to the confusion he expresses very near the story’s end.

“I don’t think I ever really meant to try to stop you from saying it [the Jesus Prayer]. At least, I don’t think I did. I don’t know. I don’t know what the hell was going on in my mind. There’s one thing I do know for sure, though. I have no goddam authority to be speaking up like a seer the way I have been. We’ve had enough goddam seers in this family. That part bothers me. That part scares me a little bit.” (195)

I also found myself more attentive than I’d been in readings past to Zooey’s placing his face in his hands twice while in Buddy’s and Seymour’s bedroom. These are two of the only moments of quiet in either story. I can’t tell if this is a useful question, but here goes: What is going on with Zooey in this story (“Zooey”)? It’s funny: He is the one who does all the teaching, and nearly all the talking, yet his may be the deeper anguish. (Anguish, btw, is not a word Salinger uses, or, it seems to me, would ever use.) What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

6. Franny: What’s going on with her?
By the end of the book, Franny is smiling up at the ceiling, presumably in a state of peace. Does this image seem the right one for the end of this story, the right conclusion to Franny’s “pilgrimage”?

7. Why do you think Mrs. Glass is in “Zooey” to the extent that she is?
She could have taken up much less space in this story, yet is as fully realized a presence as either F. or Z. Why do you think she is?

8. Christian and Eastern spiritual teachings conflated in the book
Do you think they are? I sort of do, on this reading, but I could be wrong. What are your thoughts? Please be specific to the text in your answer. I guess I don’t finally feel that this is a book about Jesus or even about the Jesus prayer so much as it is about spiritual seeking, which, for some of the Glass children, has resulted in real peril. Where does the problem lie, then? With the world? What are your thoughts?

9. Zooey and Franny (and the other Glass children) “funnel-fed” religious philosophy
“Funnel-fed” is Zooey’s description of the manner in which Seymour and Buddy taught the younger Glass children religious philosophy (both Christian and Eastern.) What’s the effect of this education on Franny and Zooey? Is it helping? What does the book propose is the alternative? Does the book propose an alternative? Am I thinking about this issue correctly/ in a way that’s faithful to the book? This is sort of the same question as # 8.

10. Seymour’s suicide haunts the story
Does Seymour’s suicide haunt this story? The Glass family’s apartment feels (to me) haunted in lots of ways. Does it feel that way for you? Please be specific to the text in your answer.

Section II continued: Questions for Personal Consideration

11. Does this seem to you like a young book, somehow, a book that’s more likely to move you when you’re young?
I don’t at all mean the book seems lacking in some quality it “should” have, that it’s naïve or jejune (I’m actually a huge fan of this book.) Yet still the book feels as though written for a Franny or a Zooey. What do you think?

12. Does this story remind you of your own family? How, or how not?

13. Does Franny and Zooey mean something different to you, now that you know how Salinger led his life?

14. Have you ever said a prayer continuously, or tried to meditate continuously?
Was the prayer the Jesus Prayer? Or, maybe you tried doing something similar, like meditate all day every day for several days in a row. What was (is) the experience like?

15. Why did you come to Franny and Zooey on this reading? Did you get what you had come for?

Review: Franny and Zooey by J.D.Salinger

Enjoy this recent literary critique about the novel

The Glass Family Series

This site explores the Glass clan, the Glass chronology, and shows a video.

John Updike review of Franny & Zooey in New York Times

Here's a new Franny and Zooey cover design.

I hope you enjoy this review by a highly regarded writer, John Updike.

Yes, You Can Hear Music Based On the Punctuation in J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey

Hulton Archive/Antony Di Gesu

J.D.Salinger: This is giving me a headache.

Fun fact

Did you know that Zooey Deschanel was named after the Zooey in this book?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

J. D. Salinger: A Life Raised High

Kenneth Slawenski:
Pomona Books, 15 March 2010
ISBN: 978-190-459-0231
Genre: Biography
Extent: 423 pages

Description: JD Salinger: A Life Raised High reveals the surprising reality behind the enigmatic author of The Catcher in the Rye. Readers travel with the author through both his stories and the events of his life. It is a biographical journey, a story of ambition and ego that collides with integrity, an account of Salinger’s struggle to deal with the consequences of his own fame while attempting to understand the nature of God and humanity after experiencing the darkest days of human history.

With unique insights into Salinger’s complex personality, the text covers his youth, war years, career and relationships, as well as his emergence as an American icon and final withdrawal. With over 400 citations and first-hand accounts, the details of Salinger’s life have been thoroughly researched and the book uncovers many surprising facts never before exposed. By peeling away myth from truth, a far more compelling life-story is actually revealed. A final chapter to cover the re-sponse on Salinger’s death was added to bring this unique book up to date.

Author: Born and raised in New Jersey, Kenneth Slawenski attended community and state colleges, where he earned two degrees in Information Technology. Re-reading The Catcher in the Rye as an adult led to an interest in J.D. Salinger and he began to independently research Salinger’s life. In 2004, he created the site Dead Caul-fields (, endorsed by The New York Times as the best Salinger resource on the Internet. In recent years, he has worked with Hollywood filmmakers as an historical consultant.

Reviews: ―It is well written, energetic and magnificently researched; a true picture of Salinger emerges from its pages. The Times

―Slawenski enthrallingly illuminates what turned Salinger into an extraordinary literary phenomenon … a fascinated and fascinating biography … The Times on Sunday

The result is a first-rate book which is especially good on the links between Salinger’s fictions and their thematic developments. … The passages on Salinger’s own war show that Slawenski can be an excellent storyteller himself. The Telegraph

―He deals exceptionally well with a life that, from the outside, appeared to stall in 1951, when Salinger was 32, but which continued for another 59 years. The Observer

In fact, A Life Raised High is a straightforward, rather old-fashioned work of biography: sensible, almost straight-laced, diligent, respectful, resolute in its refusal to include gossip, always ready to acknowledge the point at which evidence ends and speculation begins. The Mail on Sunday
―A detailed, unsensational biography … The Herald Scotland

―… his book is as irresistible to me as Salinger himself. … If you can imagine Salinger having a soft spot for any book about him — which of course you can’t — then Slawenski’s might be the one. The Spectator
―Slawenski wisely sticks to the facts … a responsible biography that does the man justice. The Skinny

Chapter overview:
0 Introduction

1 Sonny (1919–1939): Covers Salinger’s birth and upbringing, his relationship with his parents and their changing attitudes as they ascend New York society. Emphasis is placed upon his schooling, especially his time at Valley Forge Military Academy, the basis for Holden Caulfield’s school in The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger’s full genealogy is provided as well as the true story behind his parents’ marriage. After floundering from one school to the next and spending a year in Austria and Poland, the chapter ends with Salinger’s commitment to study writing.

Interviews with Salinger’s relatives were used to construct this chapter. Correlation is drawn be-tween Salinger’s youth and his later stories.

2 Ambition (1939–1941): Entering Columbia University, Salinger is torn between poetry and prose. The sale of his first published story (to a magazine owned by one of his professors, Whit Burnett) convinces him to pursue short story writing but he has difficulty selling another piece. After a commercial breakthrough, Salinger begins to write The Catcher in the Rye and becomes romantically involved with Oona O’Neill.

In this chapter, Salinger strives for professional success but is frequently disappointed.

Works Covered: 10 short stories (6 published, 1 unpublished, 3 lost); 1 poem, unpublished.

3 Indecision (1941–1943): After Pearl Harbor, Salinger is drafted into the army. His desire to be published by The New Yorker frustrated, he turns his attentions to seeking military promotion. When he does return to writing, his works are divided between commercial and serious but he continues to work on The Catcher in the Rye. Oona O’Neill abandons Salinger for Charlie Chap-lin and he falls into depression. Revived by a new romance and increased story sales, Salinger is then accepted by the army Counter Intelligence Corp.

In this Chapter, Salinger is conflicted - torn between writing and the military, between producing quality and commercialism.

Interviews with Salinger’s former girlfriend were used to construct this chapter.

Works Covered: 18 short stories (7 published, 1 unpublished, 10 lost.)

4 Displacement (1944): Salinger is stationed in England, where he trains for D-Day. While in Britain, he submits a number of stories with little success, including one narrated by Holden Caulfield. During a training exercise, he witnesses a catastrophe that takes the lives of 750 soldiers. Salinger’s time in England is detailed as well as his shifting attitudes as he contemplates going to war.

Works Covered: 5 short stories (2 published, 2 unpublished, 1 lost).
5 Hell (1944–1945, D-Day – VE Day): Salinger lands at Normandy on D-Day and endures 11 months of continuous combat, participating in 5 major campaigns. Each is detailed. During the liberation of Paris, he befriends Ernest Hemingway. After fighting in the Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge, Salinger enters Bavaria, where he encounters sub-camps of Dachau. Writing and a new-found faith see him through, but by war’s end he is broken, hospitalized in Nurem-berg for battle stress, and reaches out to Hemingway for consolation.

Continuing to write during the war, Salinger’s stories reflect his combat experiences and ac-knowledge the beginnings of spiritual exploration.

The testimonies of 12th Regiment soldiers were used to construct this chapter.
Works Covered: 7 short stories (3 published, 2 unpublished, 2 lost).

6 Purgatory (1945–1946): Salinger remains in Germany for a year, continuing to serve with Counter Intelligence. Settling in Bavaria, he marries an ophthalmologist from Frankfurt named Sylvia Welter – much to the shock of his family. Salinger’s work in Germany is covered, as well as personal descriptions of his life with Sylvia, who travels back to New York with Salinger in May 1946. Rebuffed by his family, she soon returns to Europe and files for divorce. At the same time, a promised book deal collapses and Salinger blames his editor and mentor, Whit Burnett. In an-ger, he briefly submits a 90 page version of The Catcher in the Rye for publication before return-ing to his senses. Ignoring the ramifications of war, Salinger indulges in a vigorous Greenwich Village nightlife while ineffectively attempting to write.

During this period, Salinger acts irrationally, determined to retrieve a life shattered by the war. His writings are black, his persona unsteady.

Interviews with Sylvia’s friends were used to construct this chapter.

Works Covered: 2 short stories (1 published, 1 unpublished); 1 novella (―The Inverted Forest)
7 Recognition (1947–1948): With the publication of his first Holden Caulfield story, Salinger is finally accepted by The New Yorker, his fondest dream. After molding the piece for a year, the magazine then prints Salinger’s darkest story, ―A Perfect Day for Bananafish. Its success delivers him into the fold of The New Yorker elite, where he establishes new relationships and trans-forms his living situation. Granted a salary by the magazine, he moves from his parents’ Park Avenue apartment. His career now in focus, Salinger begins to deliver stories whose quality marks him as a rising star.

By allowing his wartime sufferings to surface, Salinger reaches new literary heights and establishes a near-exclusive relationship with America’s most important magazine; yet he is still tortured by his wartime experiences and his works remain grim.

Works Covered: 4 published stories.

8 Reaffirmation (1948–1949): Reconnecting with the inner strength that saw him through the war, Salinger ends the production of gloomy works and begins to write stories that offer hope and that engage his wartime experiences in positive ways. Despite numerous rejections, he pub-lishes 3 stories that elevate his status and that solidify his position at The New Yorker, works that begin to influence other writers. In late 1949, one of his stories is adapted to film. Salinger detests the production (described in detail) and grows increasingly uncomfortable with his new-found fame. After publishing the highly successful ―For Esmé – with Love and Squalor, Salinger de-votes himself to finishing of The Catcher in the Rye.

Works Covered: 8 short stories (3 published, 5 lost)

9 Holden (1949–1951): After procuring a publisher who later abandons him, Salinger completes The Catcher in the Rye. The process is detailed along with a number of important relationships (Hamish Hamilton, John Woodburn, Harold Ross). Salinger’s combative relationship with his publishers is highlighted. Frustrated by events, Salinger travels to the British Isles, returning to New York just as his book is released. A sampling of reviews indicates the novel’s warm recep-tion, but Salinger remains displeased.

This chapter explains Salinger’s exploration of Zen Buddhism and how it conflicted with the process of publication. It reviews Catcher in a new light, revealing its subtle spirituality and un-derlying effects of the war.

Works Covered: 2 short stories (1 published, 1 lost); 1 novel, The Catcher in the Rye

10 Crossroads (1951–1952): Thrown off balance by success, Salinger sinks into depression. Afraid of being recognized, he hides in his Manhattan apartment, eventually fleeing the city for Florida and Mexico. An emerging romance with Claire Douglas (his future wife) is explored as the two begin to date. Seeking refuge from New York, Salinger purchases a 90 acre farm in rural Cornish, NH.

During this period, Salinger discovers the writings of Sri Ramakrishna, enthusiastically embracing Vedantic Hinduism. He works on two stories of religious fiction. Both stories encounter prob-lems, leaving Salinger in search of characters through which he can express his new beliefs.
Works Covered: 2 published stories (―De Daumier-Smith’s Blue period and ―Teddy).
11 Positionings (1953): Salinger moves to Cornish, NH. He works on his new home and be-friends a group of local students. His second book, the collection Nine Stories, is published to fair reviews and excellent sales. Salinger’s relationship with Claire Douglas intensifies, but she chooses another boyfriend over him. This event, coupled with a betrayal by one of the students, causes Salinger to withdraw yet again.
Works Covered: Nine Stories

12 Franny (1954): Claire Douglas is wed to her boyfriend (their relationship and his identity are revealed for the first time) but the marriage is brief. Unable to reconcile religious differences with her husband, Claire returns to Salinger. The episode inspires Salinger to write ―Franny.
This chapter examines Salinger’s romance with Claire Douglas and the importance of religion in their relationship. Douglas’ biography is detailed as well as her impact upon Salinger’s work.

Works Covered: 1 published story (―Franny)

13 Two Families (1955): Salinger begins two families: his own and the fictional Glass family. He marries Claire Douglas, who soon becomes pregnant. The couples’ life in rural Cornish is detailed together with Claire’s growing feelings of isolation. After the success of ―Franny, Salinger writes his first true story of the Glass family series, an event examined through an overview of ―Raise High.
Works Covered: 1 published story (―Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters)

14 Zooey (1956–1957): Salinger’s daughter Peggy is born. Claire suffers post partum depression. Her situation worsens when Salinger builds a writing bunker apart from the house, where he spends most of his time working on a new novel. The death of Salinger’s editor creates havoc at The New Yorker, threatening his position at the magazine. When they reject his next story, Salin-ger attempts to sell another piece to Hollywood. As the Glass family takes precedent over his own, Salinger and Claire separate for a time. The New Yorker reconsiders his submission and he labors for months to condense the story. In it, Salinger acknowledges a personal struggle with ego and his belief that his work is in the service of God.

This chapter closely examines the tensions in Salinger’s marriage, the growing religiosity of his work, as well as a number of important personal and professional relationships (Learned Hand, William Maxwell, Katherine White, and William Shawn among them). Office intrigues at The New Yorker are revealed and a portrayal of Salinger’s life in Cornish is provided.

Works Covered: 1 published novella (―Zooey)

15 Seymour (1958–1959): Now completely submerged into his characters, Salinger’s philosophy comes to a climax with the production of ―Seymour – An Introduction. Writing the erratic no-vella is an ordeal that causes him to fall ill and that further strains his marriage. Still, he attempts to gain complete control over the presentation of his work. The Beat generation takes center stage and popular esteem elevates Salinger among America’s greatest writers. Yet, he uses his next story to dampen popular reverence.

This chapter examines Salinger’s position and reactions to shifting times and to his increasingly elevated status. His influence upon his generation is discussed. The layers of ―Seymour-An Intro-duction are examined, pointing out certain personal references previously unnoted.

Works Covered: 1 published novella (―Seymour – An Introduction).
16 Reluctant Summit (1969–1961): Salinger’s son is born but he remains obsessed with his work. He has an unfortunate run-in with Whit Burnett and after feeling betrayed by Jamie Hamil-ton, cuts him off also. With the release of Franny and Zooey, Salinger’s career reaches its summit, but he recoils from the resulting onslaught of attention. While refusing to grant interviews, he is bombarded by journalists and fans that lurk about his home. Contemporary reviews (most of them scathing) and articles are examined in detail, along with Salinger’s reactions. An intimate portrayal is provided through reviews, letters, articles and accounts.

Works Covered: 1 book (Franny and Zooey); 1 editorial to the New York Post.

17 Detachment (1962–1963): After several conflicts with his publishers, Salinger releases his fourth and final book. Critics deride the collection but its sales are enormous. Personally, Salinger confides that he senses himself receding from the world but refuses to change course.

In a sense, Salinger begins to dissolve as the chapter moves between past and present, between Salinger’s dreams and actual events. His family troubles deepen. His religious fatalism becomes ingrained, displayed in his reaction to a rising controversy over The Catcher in the Rye.

Works Covered: 1 book (Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour – An Introduc-tion).

18 Farewell (1964–1965): Salinger expands his home and lands at Cornish. His children’s up-bringing is discussed. His marriage beyond repair, he moves to a separate apartment within the house. He is crushed by the Kennedy assassination and various attempts by the government to pressure him into service are recalled. As a gift to Whit Burnett, Salinger pens an introduction to an anthology that Burnett refuses to print. 1964 is spent writing his final published story, ―Hap-worth 16, 1924, released in 1965. ―Hapworth is examined at length. Through the character of Seymour Glass, Salinger makes his final statements to the world, announcing he has left his life to the will of God. For the first time since his youth, a Salinger story is ignored by the media.

Works Covered: 1 novella (―Hapworth 16, 1924)

19 The Poetry of Silence (1966–2010): The (formerly) final chapter chronicles each major event in Salinger’s life since his retirement. Only well-substantiated facts are used.

Salinger and Claire are divorced but the author builds a separate house on his property in order to maintain ties with the children. By 1970, he has decided not to publish and begins to retrieve any hint of personal information (repaying a book advance and asking his agent to destroy 500 per-sonal letters). Legal battles are discussed (a fight over the publication of his early stories and a famous case involving a biography by Ian Hamilton). Major interviews are documented: to the New York Times (1974), the Paris Review (1980), and a 1986 court deposition. The death of John Lennon, Salinger’s relationship with Joyce Maynard and his third marriage are highlighted. As the chapter ends, Salinger remains silent when confronted with the damaging memoirs of both Joyce Maynard and his daughter, Peggy. It closes with a balanced look at Salinger’s legacy and the priorities involved in measuring his life.
20 Coming Through the Rye: Responses to Salinger's death

Bloom's Modern Critical Views of Salinger

Front Cover

J.D. Salinger's powerful fiction and enigmatic persona have captivated readers for more than 50 years. His works include Nine Stories; Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters; and Franny and Zooey, but Salinger's literary reputation rests on his coming-of-age masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye. This collection of new essays draws a critical portrait of Salinger's work, complemented by an introductory essay by master scholar Harold Bloom.
Christian Spirituality: The Classics [Book]

The Way of the Pilgrim
Throughout the novel, Franny is reading a novel called The Way of the Pilgrim. What is the premise behind this religion? Arthur Holder, John Dillenberger Professor of Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., explores these issues in the link below. Key themes include: What is the meaning of life? How can human beings find truth? How can they discover who they really are? How can they live together in peace? How can they live more fully in God's presence in this world and be united with God in the world to come?


This site delves into J.D. Salinger's book Franny and Zooey. I have attached articles that help augment the reading.