by J. D. Salinger
Salinger became well known from the first moment he published The Catcher in the Rye in 1951.
He had imagined the Glasses, a family with 7 precocious children living in Manhattan and wrote some short stories and novellas about them.
Franny, (written at first as a short story), and Zooey, (as a novella) are two siblings in the Glass family, the youngest ones. They, along with the rest of the Glass children, took part in a radio programme for witty children for many years.
Franny starts on a winter Saturday morning when she, being an undergraduate student at an Art college (its name is not stated), meets her boyfriend (Lane Coutell, a senior student studying Modern European Literature) at a nearby college town, where they are supposed to watch a Yale-Harvard game and spend the weekend together.
While having dinner at a nice restaurant, Franny gets so disappointed with Lane because he speaks incessantly about an essay he had written and the unexpected enthusiastic approval of it by his professor, when he got it back “with this goddam A on it in letters about six feet high”!
But this was not the beginning to Franny’s exasperation about values.
It had all started earlier when, as a freshman at college she gets frustrated with the lack of authenticity and the egotism of professors and fellow students around her.
She consequently, can’t stand the complacency and egotism of her boyfriend who is the example of the good, conventional, “clever” student who will constitute the successful, educated citizen of society after finishing his studies.
An interesting burst on the part of Franny follows which results in her breakdown, in the restaurant.
Zooey, is telling the story after the restaurant scene with Franny and Lane.
The scene is in the Manhattan family apartment now and the conversation between Franny and Zooey is really compelling.
It’s about the role of Universities which only fill up students with plain knowledge that does not lead to being a better person but just how to become successful in society which means how to make money or perhaps how to become famous.
“You never even hear any hints dropped on a campus that wisdom is supposed to be the goal of knowledge”.
Franny however is interested in something more valuable than material or intellectual goods and so she looks for it in something more spiritual, after she finds a small book in the college library “The Way of a pilgrim”.
Her brother Zooey speaks and speaks to her for a more reasonable way of thinking but at the end he admits that he shouldn’t have tried to persuade her against Jesus Christ or any other religious solutions to her existential concerns.
Zooey ends up by saying that to get out of the situation she found herself in trapped, she should start acting again which is something she loves doing not minding who the audience is :“play for the Fat Lady”, as Seymor, the eldest and most beloved sibling in the Glass family who has killed himself, had once advised.
Who is the “Fat Lady” though?
A book that can boost one’s thoughts further!
Additionally, it is excellent, “sweet” literature.
I loved it and really enjoyed it.
I certainly recommend it.