“we don’t talk we hold forth”

They evoke a memory here, a recognition there, of the kind of overarticulate, overemotional young people who excitedly theorize about the universe and themselves, who forever question what they are saying and then question the question itself, who sound as if they knew it all, or felt it all, but who are vulnerable in their youth and lovable in their enthusiasm. When the fat Lady made her first appearance, one could wince. It seemed like parody, just as perhaps Zooey’s admonition to her sister to “be God’s actress” was parody, as well as the story of Christ dropping into the Glass kitchen and asking for some ginger ale. The parable of the Fat Lady was slightly repulsive and slightly too simple, and Salinger, as he often did, seemed to be daring one to take it or leave it.

—“‘It’s us,’ Zooey repeated, overriding her. “We’re freaks, that’s all. Those two bastards got us nice and early and made us into freaks with freakish standards, that’s all. We’re the Tattooed Lady, and we’re never going to have a minute’s peace, the rest of our lives, till everybody else is tattooed, too.’” –Franny and Zooey—Read More:http://www.full-stop.net/2011/06/07/features/essays/amanda/after-precocity-j-d-salinger/

However, Zooey’s views are not necessarily Salinger’s; her views are in character. The Glasses speak with perfect naturalness about someone having ” a hell of a lot of kharma.” They are both serious and not serious about religion; to them it is somewhere between toy and salvation. Zooey is not a prophet but an intelligent, engaging, rather glib, frighteningly articulate young television actor trying first this approach, then that, always with just a touch of the, in the American spirit, the spiritual con man, Melville’s “untrustworthy narrator” , to snap his sister out of a spiritual funk.

Seen in that light, the parable of the Fat Lady is in character; it is precisely what Zooey Glass would come up with. Salinger is much too close to his characters to permit any obvious hint of satire, but is there not between them and him just enough space for irony? He does not laugh at them. Because he loves them. He indulges them, but he does not fail to judge them.

Of course, there is a certain ambiguity, with the artist being both responsible and not responsible for what they are saying. The ambiguity can be taken as a flaw, but actually, in a Freudian sense, it is an opening that admits the author’s irony, his “joke” and his judgement. The ambiguity is strongest about Seymour, who is regarded by the surviving Glasses as something of a holy man. But there are hints in Zooey that coexistence with a saint, living or dead, can have its drawbacks and that Seymour’s sainthood itself is open to question.

—“While the rubbing out of obscenities is the most self-conscious (and self-defeating) effort in Catcher, the very fantasy of being the ‘catcher in the rye’ is itself a notion of quixotic hopefulness” (J.D. Salinger, Harold Bloom (ed.), 2008). (Südliche Landschaft mit Don Quixote, Oswald Achenbach, 1850)—Read More:http://mountaenos.blogspot.ca/2011_07_01_archive.html

Zooey senses quite clearly that Seymour has deformed them all, however lovingly, and that he has ultimately destroyed their peace through his suicide; why else would there be talk about having to forgive him? These hints of discord within the cozy Glass club become downright thunderous in Seymour: An Introduction, the story least written about, and perhaps the one most widely misunderstood…

The hallmark, then, of the advanced religious, nonsectarian or any other (and I graciously include in the definition of an “advanced religious,” odious though the phrase is, all Christians on the great Vivekananda’s terms; i.e, “See Christ, then you are a Christian; all else is talk”) — the hallmark most commonly identifying this person is that he very frequently behaves like a fool, even an imbecile….I say that the true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience……. a good many of my main characters … have a rather common flair for rushing in where most damned fools fear to tread, and are, by and large, pursued, by an Entity that I’d much prefer to identify, very rougly, as the Old Man of the Mountain… (J.D. Salinger, “Seymour: An Introduction”)


(see link at end) …Salinger’s “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” features a girl named Sybil, who comes from Whirly Wood. This is evidently a reference to Diana Nemorensis and James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. Seymour says that bananafish (a glyph for souls fallen into the sphere of generation) often eat up to “seventy-eight bananas,” the number of cards in the Tarot.

Legend tells of a tree that stands in the center of the grove and is guarded heavily. No one was to break off its limbs, with the exception of a runaway slave, who was allowed, if he could, to break off one of the boughs. Upon breaking off a limb, the slave was then in turn granted the privilege to engage the Rex Nemorensis, the current king and priest of Diana in the region, in one on one mortal combat. If the slave prevailed, he became the next king …Read More:http://kosmosidikos.blogspot.ca/2011/0


Zooey is fully aware that his younger sister is praying incessantly and knows why. He finally gets to the crux of the issue:

“It’s us,” Zooey repeated, overriding her. “We’re freaks, that’s all. Those two bastards [Seymour and Buddy] got us nice and early and made us into freaks with freakish standards, that’s all. We’re the Tatooed Lady, and we’re never going to have a minute’s peace, the rest of our lives, till everybody else is tatooed, too.” More than a trifle grimly, he brought his cigar to his mouth and dragged on it, but it had gone out. “On top of everything else,” he said immediately, “we’ve got ‘Wise Child’ complexes. We’ve never really got off the goddam air. Not one of us. We don’t talk, we hold forth. We don’t converse, we expound. At least I do. The minute I’m in a room with somebody who has the usual number of ears, I either turn into a goddam seer or a human hatpin. The Prince of Bores.”

That’s your summary of the Glass family. Brilliant observors, brilliant talkers (or perhaps expounders). Seymour, the departed genius who continues to dominate them all. … Read More:http://kevinfromcanada.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/a-j-d-salinger-tribute-part-two-franny-and-zooey-raise-high-the-roofbeams-carpenters-and-seymour-an-introduction/

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