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Book Buddy ! > Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 15, 2010 03:43PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger Franny and Zooey
J.D. Salinger J.D. Salinger

I'm putting a thread up for a Buddy Read.

So far Deborah and I are going to read it.
If anyone else would like to join in, please let us know so we can set a date. We would like to read it in the next few days or a week. Thanks !


message 2: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Ready when you are, Alias. The white cover is calling me. :-)

deborah


message 3: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments I might join you. It's been many years since I read it, and it's been sort of in the back of my mind to reread when I got the chance. Count me possibly in.


message 4: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I hope you will be able to join us, Libyrinths.

Last night I started

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott.

I had gone to the library to return some books and decided to pick it up. It's a quick read. And I love her books. I think this may be the only one I hadn't read.

ANYway, while I was reading it last night, what do I read?

"I remember in Franny and Zooey, how Franny is lying around having a breakdown, starving herself, saying the Jesus prayer ten thousand times a day, trying to find something holy in the world, and Zooey finally explodes in complete exasperation, crying out to her that she simple drink her mother's soup- that her mother's love for them consecrate it, makes it holy soup."

I guess it's a sign that I should read the book ! :)


message 5: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments The library called me today. Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke by Patty Duke has come in for me.

I will probably finish up Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott today or tomorrow.

So let me know if I should than start the Patty Duke book or Franny & Zooey.

They are all pretty slender books and look like quick reads. So the order I read them in doesn't matter to me.

Thanks !


message 6: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Alias, i got a big smile as i read the quote from Lamott. How much more encouragement do you need?!?

I'm ready to read F&Z now. In fact, tonight works really well, as tomorrow is laundry day (now that i found the key!), so i'll have time to read & fold. :-)

deborah, glad to know others are joining us!


message 7: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Okay. I am almost done with Lamott's book. I'll finish tonight or tomorrow. Then I'll start F&Z.

I hope others will join us. I am sure there is no wait for this one at the library.

Happy Laundry day ! :)


message 8: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments I'm only a few pages in, but I'm delighted at how quickly he is able to characterize people. I know for certain I didn't appreciate this when I read it years ago!


message 9: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I started it yesterday. And I am totally into it.

I am in the Zooey section where he just finished reading the letter.

It's funny, as I was reading I kept saying to myself something reminds me of F.Scott Fitzgerald. Then in the Zooey section He mentions The Great Gatsby. I think the connection I was feeling is that segment of high society that Fitzgerald was able to portray so well.


message 10: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 21, 2010 08:20AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I found some readers questions for F&Z. I thought even if you don't answer them specifically, they can provide food for thought. They also can help get a discussion going.


Warning-- the following questions contain SPOILERS !



Throughout the "Zooey" section, Bessie keeps mentioning that the painters are coming. Franny and Zooey additionally notice that the new paint smell is sharp, particularly in their parents' bedroom. What significance could this new paint have?

What does Lane Coutell represent for Franny?

What significance might the name "Glass" have?

Discuss the theme of creation and destruction. Which does Franny want out of people? Does she herself create or destroy?

What does the Fat Lady represent? How is she both "everybody" and "Jesus Christ"?

How have the Glass children been affected by having been child stars?

On Seymour and Buddy's wall, Zooey reads, "God instructs the heart, not by ideas but by pains and contradictions." What significance does this quotation have to the story?

Is the "Zooey" section a tale of mysticism or a love story? Also discuss how it might have been the one you do not pick.

Why is it important that Buddy Glass narrates "Zooey"? Why didn't Salinger just start it with Zooey in the bathtub?

Explain the "Jesus prayer" and why Franny wants to try it.

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/franny/


message 11: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Am i alone in thinking Franny is pregnant? Her actions in the restaurant led me to that conclusion. Nothing i have read in the Zooey part mentions it yet it's still my thought that she is. Anyone else think this?

I agree with Libyrinths that Salinger establishes the characters in the Franny section quickly. I am particularly glad you mentioned it, as i was wondering if i was still hanging on to Holden thoughts as i read it. As in, is J.D.S. repeating himself?

I will finish the book tonight but probably won't have time to post about it. However, i found Buddy's letter interesting, giving us all sorts of things to consider about Franny's condition.

Good question about the name "Glass". I hadn't thought about it but i don't know that the three characters i feel we meet directly (i am not counting Buddy) were easily seen. Maybe Bessie, the mother, but i felt F & Z were murky.

I also have to wonder about the fact that all the children were on the radio program, "It's a Wise Child". Is this because the first led to the second & on or was it something else? How is it they were so bright? Did their parents have a connection? Naturally it bothered me, as it's probably something which sends up alarms today but didn't then.

deborah


message 12: by madrano (last edited Mar 19, 2010 12:31AM) (new)

madrano | 11617 comments I finished the book, which i basically liked. My original thought about Franny's breakdown being triggered by a pregnancy hasn't changed. As a result i went on a google search to see what others had to say about this.

Get ready for a TIRADE. :-) When i suggested that she was pregnant, i in now way felt this diminished the fact she was also having a mental and/or spiritual crisis or breakdown. However, to read the online comments about this, one would think that believing she is pregnant is a cop out. I'd feel better about these conclusions if they weren't primarily men who discount the idea. In fact one man had the audacity to suggest that HE was familiar with pregnancy because his wife had two children. Wow! Wake up, bucko! Because your wife had an easy pregnancy means an unmarried young woman in the early 50s couldn't have a breakdown, wretching, fainting, constant sleeping & become spiritually & mentally a wreck?!?!

It appears that most people dismiss the idea of pregnancy, however, mainly because it appears to them to diminish the breakdown. Personally i don't see this, i just wondered if it wasn't the first step in falling apart. The ending, then, made more sense to me. She knows her family will support her regardless, so she now can go to sleep with a smile on her face.

Before i leave this idea, whether or not it's important, i want to add two more thoughts.
#1) Salinger himself apparently wrote an editor about the "riddle of Franny's pregnancy." As it happens while i was reading the book, DH was reading a recent edition of New York magazine. In it there was mention of 6 places where one could learn more about Salinger, including the NY public library, which has a letter which uses the above quote.http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/t... It says nothing more & i couldn't find any reference to it. So, i don't know if he was appalled by the idea, felt it was irrelevant or found the idea interesting. And, to be honest, i don't think i'm interested enough to try to scout it out. (Tirade, yes; research? nope.)

#2) The only point which led me to possibly agree that she wasn't pregnant is that someone pointed out this book is just one of several which explore the Glass family. In a subsequent story, situated 2 years later, there is no mention Franny having a baby. I do not intend to read any more Salinger for awhile but i think it's possible that she could have either miscarried or had an abortion & Zooey might not have known. So, i still don't rule it out.

http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/09/13...


message 13: by madrano (last edited Mar 19, 2010 01:33AM) (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Well, i couldn't get the link in Point #1 to work, so here it is.

http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/t...

AND the second link in the previous post, to the NY Times, is a review of this book by John Updike, from 1961. Just thought i'd share it because at one point he seemed to suggest (although i think he amended the thought later) that there are two different Franny's under discussion in the book. I must be missing something, as later i feel he makes it clear he knows it is the same person. Is this a critique of the writing? Help!

deb


message 14: by madrano (last edited Mar 19, 2010 01:32AM) (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Now, then, to continue with my non-pregnancy thoughts.

Overall i liked the book. I see that the parents were in show business, which makes the kids entering the radio field more logical, though rather sad. My personal curiosity was such that i wondered how they paid their bills, as they had a nice place, sent the kids to good schools and seemed to be able to take good care of the family. However, it's not relevant to the story, i think, as i don't believe the children's status on the radio could have garnered much money, nor used to pay many bills. However, it was a passing thought.

I found it curious that Zooey called his mother fat several times, then ended with the bit about "the fat lady" Seymour told the kids to think about before the programs. Coincidence? Maybe my own size is reflected in noticing this. If my kid ever called me fat, i'd trounce on her/him so they'd know not to do so again without serious harm to me, if not them. :-) But i digress. I liked the discussion of said lady & how she represents everyone and the particular.

When we read quote after quote from the bedroom door of Buddy & Seymour's room, i got very bored. It was as though Salinger couldn't figure out which quote made the most sense in context of the story, so added them all. It's what i have come to call the Oscar Wilde complex, wherein the author appears to want to prove to the reader he has done tons of research.

The idea of the older siblings formulating a plan for the younger ones is fascinating, even if we weren't led to believe that it may have contributed to their emotional stability. I'm thinking of the Gilbrath family in Cheaper By the Dozen and how the elder children took some physical responsibility for the younger ones. Is this the flip side of that? A step beyond? Doesn't it illustrate a sort of love (or is it coping mechanism?) that they gave considerable thought to the impact the way they were raised has (or would have) on the younger ones & hoped to improve things?

I'm not sure about this, as it also reeks of righteous little smart boys wanting to mess around in the lives of others, family being the easiest targets. No, i don't feel the text supports this but it was a discomforting thought which i had trouble shaking. And i'm not sure what Zooey thought about this either.

And what about the death of a sibling? Is it a sign of the post-War time that the 2 Salinger books we've read both include the death of a sibling & how this impacts survivors? Even back then it wasn't as prevalent as his two books would make it appear. Is it that he cannot imagine characters having meltdowns without a sibling death in the mix?

For me the most disturbing scene was the bathtub scene. The old letter, mom entering, not leaving, Zooey's rudeness, the letter, the perspiring and on. Symbolic? Sweat lodge? Baptism? Cleansing of the soul? Meditation temple, where he is usually left alone? Something else? Nothing other than a bath?

My thoughts about the scene are that it is primarily to introduce us to the "plan" Seymour & Buddy had in stressing spiritual material for Franny & Zooey. However, it went well beyond that. The debate about calling in a psychiatrist, whether to manage to get hold of Buddy, and such just seemed to go on & on. I was ready for that scene to end much earlier. Perhaps there is significance in the length--that mom tends to discuss what to do longer than they manage to actually do something for Franny? No, that isn't fair, as we really aren't given much in the text between mom & Franny.

Finally (my i'm long-winded on this book, which i do not consider particularly outstanding), i found it fascinating to consider the repainting of the apartment. It's clear the place has accumulated decades of furniture yet it doesn't seem anything is being redone, other than the walls changing color (actually, maybe just a fresh coat of the same color, i cannot recall). Things are pushed away from the walls, curtains removed. Presumably, when the painters are finished, the furniture & curtains are replaced & life there continues. Is this what we are witnessing in Franny's situation? Did this occur with Seymour? Or will this set of siblings actually manage to connect with one another to get through the crisis?

I don't know. I am sorry to drop this load, then leave town. I'll be back Saturday night, but don't know if i'll be getting online before Sunday.

deborah


message 15: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 19, 2010 07:58AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Have fun in DC Deb !

I am still reading the book, so I will answer your post by your return.


message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Here is the book Franny was reading.

The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way (Paperback)
~ Helen Bacovcin (Translator), Walter J. Ciszek (Foreword)

Product Description
This classic work of Russian spirituality tells of an anonymous peasant's quest for the secret of prayer. The Pilgrim searches high and low to know what St. Paul meant when he said that Christians should pray always. Each new stop becomes a home for a moment for this happy wanderer who has only a knapsack and a few crusts of bread, but who finds goodness and plenty wherever he goes.

Paperback: 208 pages


http://www.amazon.com/Way-Pilgrim-Con...

The Way of a Pilgrim by Helen Bacovcin The Way of a Pilgrim Helen Bacovcin


message 17: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Madrano post 11
Am i alone in thinking Franny is pregnant? Her actions in the restaurant led me to that conclusion. Nothing i have read in the Zooey part mentions it yet it's still my thought that she is. Anyone else think this?
-----------------

I thought this when I read the Franny section. However, nothing supports this in the Zooey section. It seems she was having a mental breakdown.


message 18: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Madrano post 11
there are two different Franny's under discussion in the book. I must be missing something, as later i feel he makes it clear he knows it is the same person. Is this a critique of the writing? Help!
-----------------

No. It's the same Franny. I printed out and saved the NY Times obituary when Salinger passed away. I keep it in my copy of F&Z. The article states:

"As for the fictional family the Glasses, Mr. Salinger had apparently been writing about them nonstop. Ms. Maynard said she saw shelves of notebooks devoted to the family. In Mr. Salinger's fiction the Glasses first turn up in "A perfect Day for Bananafish," in which Seymour, the oldest son and family favorite, kills himself during his honeymoon. Characters who turn out in retrospect to have been Glasses appear glancingly in "Nine Stories", but the family saga really begins to be elaborated upon in "Franny and Zooey", "Raise High the Roof Bean" and "Hapworth", the long short story, which is ostensibly a letter written by Seymour from camp when he is just 7 years old but already reading several languages and lusting after Mrs. Happy, wife of the camp owner. Readers also began to learn about the parents, Les and Bessie, long-suffering ex-vaudevillian, and Syemour's siblings Franny, Zooey, Buddy, Walt, Waker and Boo Boo' about the Glasses' Upper West Side apartment; about the radio quiz show on which all the children appeared. Seldom, in fact, as a fictional family been so lovingly or richly imagined."


message 19: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 21, 2010 07:54AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Madrano post 11
I found it curious that Zooey called his mother fat several times, then ended with the bit about "the fat lady" Seymour told the kids to think about before the programs. Coincidence? Maybe my own size is reflected in noticing this. If my kid ever called me fat, i'd trounce on her/him so they'd know not to do so again without serious harm to me, if not them. :-) But i digress. I liked the discussion of said lady & how she represents everyone and the particular.
------------------------

Yes, they were taught that the "fat lady" is the "Everyman" and should be respected as such. I think he was saying Christ is in each and every person and deserves respect. In fact Zooey says, "... Jesus knew- knew- that we are carrying the Kingdom of heaven around with us, inside where we're all too goddam stupid and sentimental an unimaginative to look?" He points out that is the point of the Jesus prayer. He says, "The Jesus Prayer has one aim, and one aim only. To endow the person who is saying it with Christ Consciousness."

It was interesting that Zooey seemed to articulate this well to Franny, but when it came to the mother, he didn't practice what he preached so to speak.

I'm not sure what Salinger was trying to get at by making that point. Perhaps, though the children were very bright, they were stunted emotionally? Perhaps, that they were maybe book smart, not people smart ?


message 20: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Madrano post 11
When we read quote after quote from the bedroom door of Buddy & Seymour's room, i got very bored. It was as though Salinger couldn't figure out which quote made the most sense in context of the story, so added them all. It's what i have come to call the Oscar Wilde complex, wherein the author appears to want to prove to the reader he has done tons of research.
------------------

I didn't feel it was too long. In my hardcover edition it was only 2 1/2 pages. Maybe it's because I love quotes and keep a quote journal myself.

I think we are supposed to glean something from the various quotes. It's a mix of philosophers and authors. It seems a bit random. I'm not sure what Salinger was getting out with the quotes he selected. However, I am sure they are meant to mean something. This is what I get. I could be totally off base here.


Anna Karenina- commits suicide like Seymour.

Kafka- I thing represents a world out of control. Much like what the Glass children feel.

Epictetus- was a stoic philosopher who posited that true good is within oneself. He emphasized the doctrine of brotherhood and his writing influenced Marcus Aurelius. (according to my one vol. encyclopedia).

Aurelius is also quoted- maybe showing handing down "Wisdom" from one generation to another. "Wisdom" was what Franny said she never heard mentioned in for years of college.


message 21: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Madrano Post 11
For me the most disturbing scene was the bathtub scene. The old letter, mom entering, not leaving, Zooey's rudeness, the letter, the perspiring and on. Symbolic? Sweat lodge? Baptism? Cleansing of the soul? Meditation temple, where he is usually left alone? Something else? Nothing other than a bath?

My thoughts about the scene are that it is primarily to introduce us to the "plan" Seymour & Buddy had in stressing spiritual material for Franny & Zooey. However, it went well beyond that. The debate about calling in a psychiatrist, whether to manage to get hold of Buddy, and such just seemed to go on & on. I was ready for that scene to end much earlier. Perhaps there is significance in the length--that mom tends to discuss what to do longer than they manage to actually do something for Franny? No, that isn't fair, as we really aren't given much in the text between mom & Franny.
----------------------------

No, I wouldn't blame the mom for inaction. I recall Zooey saying they called a psychiatrist for Seymour and he committed suicide. I can understand her reticent behavior.

I would also note that Salinger says at the very start of the Zooey section that this is a "prose home movie" and "not one of the three, I might well add, showed any noticeably soaring talent for brevity of detail or compression of incident. A short coming, I'm afraid, that will be carried over to this, final or shooting, version. I can't excuse it, regrettable, but I insist on trying to explain it. We are, all four of of us, blood relatives, and we speak a sort of semantic geometry in which the shortest distance between any two points is a fullish circle."

I thought Zooey's perspiring might indicate his own spiritual or mental health issues. His breakdown.

The bathtub scene perhaps shows the family has boundary issues. The kids were treated as adult from early on due to their intelligence. Perhaps they never had a childhood.

It's interesting they talk about the psychiatrist while he is in the tub. It brought to mind Freud and the Oedipus complex. Unresolved issues?

I noted the Zooey's back is mentioned three times. I always associate the number 3 with Christ. (denied 3 times. Father, son, holy ghost etc.)

Zooey's back:

1- When the author is describing Zooey, "From the rear- particularly where his vertebrae were visible- he might almost have passed for one of those needy metropolitan children who are sent out every summer to endowed camps to be fattened and sunned."

2- the mom: You're getting so broad and lovely, she said, aloud, and reached out to touch the small of his back."

3- Franny gazed thoughtfully at his white broadcloth back. Her lips, however, were still silently forming words."


message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments madrano post 11
i found it fascinating to consider the repainting of the apartment. It's clear the place has accumulated decades of furniture yet it doesn't seem anything is being redone, other than the walls changing color (actually, maybe just a fresh coat of the same color, i cannot recall). Things are pushed away from the walls, curtains removed. Presumably, when the painters are finished, the furniture & curtains are replaced & life there continues. Is this what we are witnessing in Franny's situation?
---------------------------------

I think it's a metaphor for the whole Glass family. They are working on the outside surface appearance, but the inside is a mess. It is also the "game face" they had to wear when they did the quiz show.
I wonder if this was written before or after the quiz show scandals.


message 23: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Alias, i've appreciated the thoughts you've shared about the questions & problems i shared. Your answers are covering many of my concerns & fleshing out other things i am not sure i gave much thought, such as the mention of Zooey's back three times.

Your comments about the quotes in the bedroom were welcomed. I don't have my Reader's Encyclopedia, so was just guessing about some of the meaning of the quotes, as well as their authors. Thank you.

The boundary issues is a fascinating subject with this family and not just about the bathtub. Impersonating Buddy (or trying to do so) seems a violation of Franny's trust, so to speak. We've mentioned the mother in the bathroom, as well. However, there is a huge boundary issue when the older boys decided what it was important to "teach" the younger too, so they could become "wise" before they learned facts and other mental progress. My first objection would be that it is the parent's responsibility. However, the boys felt the impact of the parent's original choices, so they may have felt it was important. Yet, i would think talking with the folks would have been the way to go. This is what i meant in an earlier post about the appearance of two self-righteous boys taking their siblings education in hand.

Your comment about the metaphor for the Glass family & the "game face" echoed back to the question of the significance of their last name. They may have had the appearance of being seen but really their lives are well hidden behind their knowledge.

deborah


message 24: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments Wow, I've read all your comments with interest! Deb, I have to say I initially thought Franny was preggers during her section, and the question lingered for some of the Zooey section. Like you, I could see no reason why an unexpected, unmarried pregnancy -- in the 1950s, no less -- couldn't trigger her breakdown. I came to the conclusion that whether or not she turned out to be pregnant, there was no hint of its being a possibility or contributing factor in the Zooey section.

What struck me, and stayed with me, was Seymour's reaction on the plane to the little girl turning the doll's face around to look at him. To me this sort of signified everything in the book. Everything was on the surface: the parents were vaudeville entertainers; the children were radio performers; as Alias mentioned, Buddy talks about the book being a draft for a movie script; Zooey is an actor; Lane is a simulacrum of a man, IMO -- only interested in appearances; the doll is a simulacrum of a little girl; the paint job, as you both point out, only touches the surface, but makes nothing new. Even the naming of retail brands and stores was an example of this. AND the same can be said for their syncretic religious philosophies. They touch the surface of all those ideas, but none have any deep significance to any of them. They are intellectual exercises, not real practice of a life path. They are ideas to be sampled and discussed, not to imbue life with any meaning.

Franny is looking for the real, the beautiful. She has seen that the surfaces don't satisfy, be it in acting, in poets, in boyfriends. She's trying to find the road into the real, but her entire life has left her unprepared to do so. So, rather than trying to explore either Catholicism or Judaism (from her two parents' backgrounds), she adopts a mystical and extreme practice to try to get to her answer. She's seeking Seymour because she suspects (apparently correctly) that he had the same realization she was having.

She is shattering because the surface, the life of appearances, shatters when you seek the real, the substantial, within yourself. Who you've been taught you are has to give way to who you discover you really are.

As to all the quotes on the door, I thought it showed the syncretic and superficial nature of their "spiritual" sides. None of the quotes seemed related to one another. Some were even contradictory to other quotes.

Franny's perhaps-pregnancy may have been somewhat symbolic -- she was preparing to give birth to her real self.

Well, those are some of my thoughts on the book. I don't remember getting much, if anything, like this out of it when I read it years ago. I remember vaguely disliking the book because I disliked the characters and didn't enjoy reading about someone's "nervous breakdown".


message 25: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Madrano post 23
The boundary issues is a fascinating subject with this family and not just about the bathtub. Impersonating Buddy (or trying to do so) seems a violation of Franny's trust, so to speak. We've mentioned the mother in the bathroom, as well. However, there is a huge boundary issue when the older boys decided what it was important to "teach" the younger too, so they could become "wise" before they learned facts and other mental progress.
-------------------


Good connection about the impersonation. That was out of bounds. Though when Franny found out she didn't seem to mind.

It seems the children feel they must take over the parents role because they are not too intelligent. I guess in a way that is a burden.
-----------------

Madrano-
the Glass family & the "game face" echoed back to the question of the significance of their last name. They may have had the appearance of being seen but really their lives are well hidden behind their knowledge.
---------------------

Regarding the Glass name. I took it to be that even though they are sophisticated, wealthy and very intelligent, they are quite fragile. (break like glass).


message 26: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Libyrinths wrote:
She is shattering because the surface, the life of appearances, shatters when you seek the real, the substantial, within yourself. Who you've been taught you are has to give way to who you discover you really are..."


==============================

I think you are right on target. Franny's "shattering" -like Glass- the surface. You're explanation is much better than what I thought.

syncretic -- You've found the perfect word to describe their religious beliefs !
---------------------

Libyrinths wrote:
To me this sort of signified everything in the book. Everything was on the surface:
----------------------

It's interesting that that is what the children felt about others. That they were phony and shallow. Yet they didn't see it in themselves.


message 27: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Libyrinths wrote: "They touch the surface of all those ideas, but none have any deep significance to any of them. They are intellectual exercises, not real practice of a life path. They are ideas to be sampled and discussed, not to imbue life with any meaning. "

Excellent point. This covers much of what we see throughout the novel. (I'd forgotten about that doll's head.) Something about the timing of Franny's breakdown, as well as Seymour's suicide help me latch onto Libyrinth's observation faster. Both are in places where their lives should be top-notch: in love. Yet, are they? It seems this is when both fall apart. It's almost as though this final hope has turned out to not be much. Seymour kills himself but Franny has another option in her bag, a spiritual mantra.

Well, i'm going to have to continue this later, as DH tells me we are not in NYC so i can post on book boards. That Man!

However, before i lose it, i want to mention something Alias wrote in the above post. This is the "phony and shallow" nature they seem to see in others (& let's not forget Holden's world of phony people). How much of this is the world of young people learning to accept realities about the world & how much a reflection of their own lives/upbringing/loss?

deborah


message 28: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments I'm back. I can't think now of what i wanted to add, however. In essence i agree with Libyrinths' reaction from her youth, these characters do not appeal to me, which is one reason i have no interest in reading more about the family. I have enough problems!

No, seriously. What i mean is that while the family is a curiosity, i don't really find Salinger's writing particularly attractive for me. It answers one of the questions i had after reading Catcher--the characters & their observations are the drawing card to these works. Clearly he has spiritual & mental acuity issues in mind, not to mention philosophy.

deborah


message 29: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments I remember reading Franny and Zooey years ago pretty much right after reading Catcher and I had the same reaction that you did Deb. Which is -- I had no interest in reading more.


Barbara


message 30: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 23, 2010 07:14AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments madrano wrote: "hat i mean is that while the family is a curiosity, i don't really find Salinger's writing particularly attractive for me.."
-----------------

That's interesting. I enjoyed his writing style a lot.

The plot perhaps less so. Though I do find the characters in Catcher and F&Z intriguing.

As I noted early, I did read some or all of his Nine Stories back in either high school or Jr. high school. I don't recall the short stories at all. I still have my copy.

I guess at some point I will re-read the short stores, so I will be familiar with his three major works.


message 31: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments I'm glad we read this book together, as i doubt i would have read it on my own, even as short as it is. Having written my thoughts on these two books, i hasten to add that it will be interesting to see what his estate releases & whether/how much the Glass family history continues.

deborah


message 32: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments I have more I'd like to discuss about the book, but have so little time at the moment. One of the things I've been thinking about is something you all mentioned upthread about how uncomfortable the bathroom scene was. It was for me too. It made me feel trapped and angry (from Zooey's perspective) and shocked and angry at his rudeness to his mother. It made me wonder if the tub wasn't some kind of womb thing. I also wondered, as you guys did, about something Oedipal. One of the things which I've considered is how it showed how little the parents were parents. The father absent. Only one time did Zooey call his mother "mom". I'm just still thinking about all this. Anyway, these are disjointed thoughts, but wanted to at least throw them out (so you can have disjointed thoughts too!). I'll try to get more thinking done later on. Sorry I haven't been able to participate as much as I'd like.

Sharon


message 33: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 24, 2010 09:37AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Sharon: I'm just still thinking about all this.

---------------
One of the signs of a good story is its many layers. :)
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Sharon: Only one time did Zooey call his mother "mom".
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Unless I am forgetting, Sharon your post made me realized his mom didn't really react to his calling her fat, etc.

Was it to show she was too caught up in her worry about Franny? She wasn't listening... never did ? Something else. The scene at the end where is is walking down the hallway, and his mom is coming the other way, and he calls her fat and tells her to get out of the way was very awkward. It was almost as if didn't want to risk brushing up against her. As if he was panicked at the very thought. Disgusted? Ashamed ? We know the children look down on the parents for what they perceive as a lack of intelligence.

We also haven't mentioned Zooey's cigars. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar or .....


message 34: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments LOL, Alias! The cigar, the ashes in the tub, i was grossed out by them & i happen to like the smell of cigars. You & Sharon are treading upon territories i didn't know how to address. There didn't seem to be boundaries as far as the bathroom went, in most ways.

And it didn't really seem to me that Zooey objected to her presence as much as he did to the interruption of his alone time. As it dragged on he became ruder but, again, it didn't really seem to be about modesty, although that is how he got her out of the room at first.

Honestly, i didn't realize Z only called her "mom" once. While i've known parents who didn't want the hierarchal relationships & encouraged their children to call them by their first names, i thought it was more a '60s thing. Interesting point.

deborah


message 35: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments I hadn't even thought about the cigars because everyone smoked something in there. But, the cigar, now that you mention it, seemed sort of part of his persona, like a prop. I didn't think it was Freudian, but maybe it is.

Deb, I like what you said about boundaries because you are right, there were few throughout the book. Even Franny slept in the living room rather than her own room (I know, it was being painted, but if you're having a nervous breakdown, you usually want your privacy).

Speaking of that, I loved the line from Zooey: If she's going to have a nervous breakdown, the least we can do is keep her from having it in peace.

Anyway, back to boundary issues, do you think since there seemed to be little REAL intimacy amongst the family members that the lack of boundaries was perhaps a substitute for that? A pseudo-intimacy? In fact, considering the pseudo aspect of the rest of their lives, it seems to fit.

Also, it didn't really hit me that the kids thought their parents were stupid. I know how Zooey acted toward his mother, yet he acknowledge at one point her ability to see right into him and his motives and he seemed to respect her for that. That was really one of the only (that I can think of) real semblances of intimacy in the book. And it seemed to scare Zooey, which might explain his redoubled efforts at being nasty to his mother afterwards.

Alias, I agree with your comments about Salinger's writing. I liked it much more now, even still not liking the characters.

Another thing which I've been thinking about, mentioned upthread, is the juxtaposition between the "phony" outer world which the children don't seem to be able to function in, and their own surface existence. Deb, you said they didn't seem to be able to see their own shallowness (or some other term I'm too lazy to scroll up and look for). I thought when I read it that most people reading it at the time might easily see the world of appearances that was the traditional one they were reacting against, but might not see that the Glass family was simply doing a non-standard version of the same thing.

I also wondered how that one brother got to be a priest after his upbringing. Any thoughts on that?

Sharon


message 36: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments Well, more thoughts wandering through my head. The more I've thought about it, the more the "Wise Child" radio program seemed to be a vaudeville act more than anything. In addition, the title seems to be an oxymoron: children haven't lived enough to have any wisdom.


message 37: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 25, 2010 06:10AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments A few quick thoughts, as I don't have time to post right now, but I didn't want to forget these ideas. I'll post more later.

In post 36 Sharon mentioned the radio program, Wise Child and also that "children haven't lived enough to have any wisdom. Wisdom is also what Franny said she never heard mentioned or learned in college. I think we are on to something with "wisdom"

In post 35 Sharon mentioned "back to boundary issues, do you think since there seemed to be little REAL intimacy amongst the family members that the lack of boundaries was perhaps a substitute for that? A pseudo-intimacy? In fact, considering the pseudo aspect of the rest of their lives, it seems to fit."

When you choose to ignore peoples personal boundaries that is a very passive aggressive act.

Sharon wrote: Also, it didn't really hit me that the kids thought their parents were stupid.

I'll try to find a quote from the book to support this idea.


message 38: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments I don't have time right now either, but you don't need to look for support for the idea about the kids thinking their parents were stupid. I misphrased things, and meant that to mean it hadn't occurred to me.

Your point about the passive-aggressive nature of boundary trespassing is a good one. That certainly felt that way in the bathroom. More later on.

Sharon


message 39: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments I find it funny that three of us checked with the boards but don't have time to post right now. I do that all the time but thought i was ALONE in doing so! LOL!

I don't have time to post right now because i'm going into Manhattan to the Hayden Planetarium where i will meet up with Alias & Shomeret, both of whom i know thanks to the old AOL book boards.

I'm tickled that we are meeting in NYC, the setting for the Salinger novels we've shared. Very Interesting re. the Wise Child, i must add.

deborah


Donna in Southern Maryland (cedarville922) | 207 comments Deborah posted: I don't have time to post right now because i'm going into Manhattan to the Hayden Planetarium where i will meet up with Alias & Shomeret, both of whom i know thanks to the old AOL book boards.


I'm so glad I checked this thread, even though I did not read this book. I'm so delighted that the three of you are getting together to do something, especially the Planetarium! When we had our 7th grade field trip via the train from Washington, that's one of the places we went that day. I still remember enjoying it!

Hope you all had great weather and a super visit! Take any pictures to share?

Donna in Southern Maryland


message 41: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments No photos were taken, Donna, but i enjoyed myself enormously. Finally meeting on-line friends is a new pleasure for me. It's putting a face to the book (& other parts) lives we've shared.

And the planetarium presented a wonderful show, "The Journey to the Stars", narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, was outstanding. http://www.amnh.org/rose/spaceshow/jo... I was excited to see the art work, as well as the science. I highly recommend it.

Then we moseyed around the building, which is also part of the Natural History Museum, past exhibits on the origin of life, dioramas of animals, people and such, plus dinosaurs, minerals and incredible gems of a size to make a person stand mouth wide open.

Happy! Happy Day!

deborah


message 42: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments It was great to meet Debra and Linda. A good time was had by all. :)


message 43: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 26, 2010 07:24AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Libyrinths wrote:Your point about the passive-aggressive nature of boundary trespassing "
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I am trying to think why the relationship was this way. I seem to feel an undercurrent of hostility at the parents for putting the kids on the radio program. As I understood it, the show was a competition. That certainly is a lot of pressure. Zooey was on the show for weeks.

Was it felt that the parents were trying to live vicariously though the kids ? Their own vaudeville careers were ending?

Perhaps the parents just felt confused and unable to help their children. The children were exceptional bright but seem to be unable to be happy with life. Franny has emotional problems that may require a doctors care. Zooey can't seem to find a career or anything that really excites him. And Seymour committed suicide.


message 44: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Libyrinths wrote:Your point about the passive-aggressive nature of boundary trespassing "
------------------

I am trying to think why the relationship was this way. I seem to feel an undercurre..."


I wouldn't be surprised that Franny & Zooey had issues with mom & dad. In addition to everything else, it appears they stood by while the older ones determined to alter their learning strategy, placing even more burden on the youngest two. Yikes! Where are the folks? Probably thinking this is a great idea. I'd still hold them responsible as a kid, even without older siblings, blaming the parents is a good route to take.

And i think these 2 would have learned the attitude from the older ones, as well. Becoming a performance act of sorts might well do that for many children. Just a thought.

deborah


message 45: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments I'm delighted that everyone got to get together! What a treat to meet online friends! But did you get to meet Neil deGrasse Tyson? Despite his support for demoting Pluto, he's still one of my favorites.

Meanwhile, back at the book...

Alias:Was it felt that the parents were trying to live vicariously though the kids ? Their own vaudeville careers were ending?


Alias, I tend to think that may be the case. Their children were somewhat appendages and sensed it.

Madrano: And i think these 2 would have learned the attitude from the older ones, as well. Becoming a performance act of sorts might well do that for many children.

Can you say Michael Jackson? Not that these characters reach that extreme. But I think you both nailed it. At least it feels right to me.

I've also reconsidered what I thought about Franny and the ending. Initially I thought Zooey had thrown out enough stuff that he finally hit on something that Franny could understand, that touched a deeper place in her. But what I've come to now is that as she was having the same problems relating to the world as they had all had, and WAS attempting to find the real versus the illusion, Zooey talked her back into the illusion which is why she felt at peace at the end.

The reason I say this is that at first I thought what he said about seeing the divine in everyone was good, and it did solve one of her problems. But, he claimed it was Christ-consciousness, the essence of Christianity, but he could just as easily have said it was Buddha-consciousness or the essence of Buddhism, the way he explained it. If she'd been off doing some extreme Buddhist practice, he would have said that, and in the same way. He was bringing her back to their syncretic thinking, IMO.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? I'm wondering how others saw the ending.

Madrano, upthread (post 27) you said: However, before i lose it, i want to mention something Alias wrote in the above post. This is the "phony and shallow" nature they seem to see in others (& let's not forget Holden's world of phony people). How much of this is the world of young people learning to accept realities about the world & how much a reflection of their own lives/upbringing/loss?

I'm not sure, but it does seem they had more deficits in confronting the world due to their upbringing. Most parents attempt to teach their kids how to cope in the world, and then the kids have to do the best they can when they're on their own. But these parents seemed to do just the opposite.

Sharon


message 46: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 31, 2010 07:27AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Sharon: He was bringing her back to their syncretic thinking, IMO.
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You may be right. The children (really young adults) had no anchor. So they grabbed onto whatever seemed to be floating by at the time. On the other hand, they had an open mind. Maybe the prayer won't work for Franny, but she is willing to give it a try. It's true the world can seem to be full of "phonies" and one may wonders what the point of it all is. Much like Holden in The Catcher in the Rye. Perhaps they are just still searching. Franny is still in college. A time of exploration and finding out who you are. Heck, one can go a lifetime and not find ones way or realize at middle age that the track you've been on is the wrong one for you.

I want to thank both of you for discussing this book with me. I know I've gotten so much more out of it than I would have on my own. At the very least, reading with others make me slow down and dig deeper and think about what the author is trying to convey and not just surface read and rush on to the next book.


message 47: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Libyrinths wrote: "
I've also reconsidered what I thought about Franny and the ending. Initially I thought Zooey had thrown out enough stuff that he finally hit on something that Franny could understand, that touched a deeper place in her. ...[I"VE SNIPPED:] He was bringing her back to their syncretic thinking, IMO.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? I'm wondering how others saw the ending. ..."


Frankly, i was dissatisfied with the ending but i believe what you wrote is basically correct, Sharon. Zooey was pulling her toward the center from which they oozed away while in college. With the effort he illustrated that he understood her quandary on one level because he'd frittered around it himself. And he let her know he was there for her. Honestly, this latter point seemed more important to me. Somehow Seymour was let down & Franny was informed Zooey was there, just as confused, as worried, as she was but holding things together in his fashion.

The fact that she smiled & went back to sleep is the part that bothered me. I'm not sure i can put it into words. Given all the rest she'd already had, disturbed though it was, the fact she returned to sleep bothered me (well, unless she is pregnant & needed it, my stubborn self proclaims).

Sleep is one of the first signs of depression in my family. We all recognize it and know it's time to figure things out. Therefore, that Franny could not only fall asleep but in a freshly painted room which, back then, would have been full of fumes for a long time afterward, bothers me. I suppose it was enough to know Zooey supported her in her weakest hour but the work ahead will be difficult and i'm not sure how much this family can truly support her through therapy. But that's projecting into the text (not to mention beyond!).

Like you, Alias, sharing the book allowed me to think deeper about it and the characters. This is a value of a group reading & i'm glad we could make time to do so.

deborah


message 48: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Somewhere upthread i said i wasn't going to read anymore Salinger. Eating my words here to state that i read "A Perfect Day for Bananafish". Dh was reading the book & at the end of this, the first story, declared, "Creepy." So, of course, i had to read it. THEN, he just kept making comments.

Long story short (Too Late!), i will, in fact, be reading Nine Stories. However, i am going to delay my gratification until i finish reading our current monthly read by Camus. If anyone is interested in joining me, i welcome the companionship. (I will be cross-posting this.)

deborah


message 49: by madrano (last edited Apr 09, 2010 05:56AM) (new)

madrano | 11617 comments Well, i never! My thoughts about the ending of Franny and Zooey may be changing, thanks to one of Salinger's stories in his

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger Nine Stories

As others may recall, i was uncomfortable with the fact that Franny went to sleep at the end of the book. For me & many i know, sleep is part of depression, so this action (inaction?) on her part was not a good sign, to my way of thinking.

However, Salinger ended one story in the above book with a comment about sleep which makes me think he saw it in a different light. The story is "For Esme--with Love and Squalor". In it a WWII-shocked soldier receives a letter & package from a teenager he met the last training day in England. The story ends this way (i am not spoiling the storyline, imo), "Then, suddenly, almost ecstatically, he felt sleepy.
"You take a really sleep man, Esme, and he always stands a chance of again becoming a man with all his fac--with all his f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact."

So, while i maintain objections to the fact Franny fell back to sleep in a paint-odor-filled room, i am now reconsidering what it meant to the author.

deborah


message 50: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Sleep can be healing, too. Sometimes when people can't sleep it's a sign of illness. So you've have to take it in context.

I'll have to move this book up my TBR list.


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