Matt's Reviews > Franny and Zooey

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
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's review
May 03, 2007

it was amazing
Read in November, 2006

I loved this book. I read it for the first time in Russia, and then recently reread it last fall. There's something really romantic about the way they explore spirituality here....I have actually really wanted to discuss this book with someone for a long time, but I couldn't get my wife to read it. One thing that I was disappointed with, though....the journey through the book was worth a lot more than the endpoint, which I either didn't get or if I did thought it was a little anticlimactic and sad. I enjoyed the dialogue between Franny and Zooey and the backstory about their brothers and their family, and I absolutely dig the dispair over phoniness that JD Salinger seems to have in all his books, but his conclusion doesn't lead to hope, at least for me. Maybe he's just grasping at what he sees is possible in this life, but I walk away feeling like he's missing the whole point of his protagonist's dispair....that life cannot be lived outside of phoniness, that even in his character's desire to help people and create happiness and preserve innocence, they're still stuck in the same place they started.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Craig Pope I agree that when i finished the book it was not the end that stayed with me, there was no satisfying synthesis or revelation or lessen even. It seems that the really what Salinger is doing is using the dialogue's to raise several points about life and then just letting them hang. Then the book just ends, precisely because it was not really a narrative, there was no real plot (other than figuring out why franny was getting so sad, which of course you never really figure that out). Though zooey is one of the most clever, witty, and intellegent characters i have ever read, he is not really a hero, nor does he really gain anything like wisdom - as far as I can remember. I read this last summer and it's on the top of books to re-read now that there is brief respite from school.

Ashley Blake I will have to disagree with both of you about the end, although I'm totally with Matt about the exploration of spirituality in there. The end, to me, is supposed to be a little anticlimatic to emphasize the undending search of our spirituality--the progressive nature of our spirits. However, I do think that Zooey came to a sort of conclusion in that maybe the point IS the spirituality, or as he names specifically, Jesus. The point of the prayer and the search IS that we are spiritual beings. Just a thought.

Matt I'd like to pick it up again to make sure I'm remembering correctly, but it seemed to me that Zooey was trying to snap Frannie out of her self imposed spiritual coma by emphasizing that Jesus was NOT the point, in that the point of the prayer was in getting outside of yourself and serving others and not about real relationship with God.

Zooey tells Frannie that Buddy (or their other brother, I can't remember) tells him that Jesus is the fat, disgusting woman who listens to their program as her only source of escape. I take that to mean that he is saying that true spirituality is caring for the down and out, the forgotten and discarded people of this world. And I can appreciate that for what it's worth. But my problem with it is that my experience has been that service like that is not only meaningless, but impossible, without first having true forgiveness and depth of relationship with God. Because unlike Zooey, I can't seem to love for love's sake outside of God's love for me.

So anyway, I was a little disappointed in this because I thought that Frannie was really getting somewhere with her search, and I felt like Zooey may have given her an answer that was superficially satisfying, but that in the end would prove just as empty as she had found the rest of her life to be.

To me, it felt like Zooey was on an endless feedback loop with God because she couldn't receive his forgiveness - she kept asking for it, but without relationship, without an understanding of grace, the prayer had to continue in perpetuity to absolve her of her empty life. So I was really hoping that their conversation at the end would lead to an understanding of forgiveness....and THEN would lead back to the disgusting fat woman who Zooey performed for.

Ashley Blake know I think you're right about Zooey calling the Fat Lady Jesus. It's been a while. But, just now when I went back to read it, I found it striking that Franny seems to be very relieved that the Fat Lady is Jesus as well as everyone else. She seems to be more at peace with the idea that the end of all her spiritual searching, at least for this crisis, ends in a fat lady in a wicker chair swatting flies. I do agree with you now that it seemed like her searching was leading to something a little more profound and that Zooey seemed to put a hault to her growth and simply wanted her to calm down and be "normal". Well, this was good in that I revisited the end because obviously, I had it totally backward!

Matt Yeah, I love that Salinger really writes characters that I care about. Like I really care about Franny's spiritual search....I want her to come to the end of herself, to find peace with a loving God. I think I can identify with Franny because I tend to fall on the side of despair in life (as Franny does) as opposed to the opposite peril of ignoring reality. And I feel like Zooey teaches her a more clever way of ignoring spiritual reality. But I have a lot of faith in Franny, and I really think that it will not be long trying to live up to his ideals before she despairs of herself all over again. And I'm really hoping that that despair will lead her to God - I'm pretty sure true despair can only lead to God or suicide. Hmmm, that makes me wonder about her brother Seymore, who committed suicide. I never finished the story about him....(Seymore, an Introduction).

Ashley Blake Franny is a great character--one with I identify more oftent than not. In that case, I have to believe that her despair and searching will lead to God. If God is the ground of Being, it has to, right? Let's hope.

Seymour, An Introduction is really great. He was definitely an interesting character. His suicide story is in Nine Stories (A Perfect Day for Banana Fish) and it's pretty sad and weird, classic Salinger. I like all the stories about the Glass fam.

message 7: by Ally (new)

Ally The brand new group - Bright Young Things - is nominating books to read in January & Franny and Zooey is among them. Its the perfect place to discuss your favourite books and authors from the early 20th Century, why not take a look...

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