Franny and Zooey (英語) ペーパーバック – 2001/1/30
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The author writes: FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955, and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill.
I would be far from being arrogant enough to say that many people misunderstand Holden Caulfield, but I think that it is forgiven to tell people that they will know what Holden is really like if they read 'Franny'.
For example, Holden retorts in his heart to old Spencer, who says that life is a game.
"Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right―I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what a game about it? Nothing. No game."
Here Holden decidedly rejects game, or competition.
But Franny reveals her more warped feelings about competition.
"I'm not afraid to compete. It's just the opposite. Don't you see that? I'm afraid I will compete―that's what scares me. That's why I quit the Theatre Department. Just because I'm so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else's values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn't make it right, I'm ashamed of it. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I'm sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of a splash."
Needless to say, Holden and Franny are the same kind of persons, and the only difference between them is that Holden is a dropout, while Franny is a prestigious college student so brilliant as to compete in the society well enough. So Holden cannot do nothing but vent his frustration by complaining about anything in the society, but Franny is caught in the middle between his desire to win and put herself in the spotlight and her sense of ethics that demands her to be an absolute nobody, and she is all the more troubled because she has the ability to realize her desire if she will.
Her breakdown is quite natural, because it is impossible to reconcile her desire to be somebody with her desire to be nobody. But it is hard to see why she thinks it so wrong to try to win and put herself in the spotlight, because it is supposed to be normal in American society. Is it occasioned by Christianity she believes in, or by the mental atmosphere of the Glass family? The only thing sure is that Salinger himself thinks so. In that sense, one may safely say that Franny's predicament is Salinger's, that is, Salinger himself is caught in the middle between his desire to become famous and his sense of ethics that demands him to be in the obscure.
Salinger's strict attitude of keeping any advertizing off himself shows his strong determination to put himself in the obscure, but at the same time it shows his strong desire to become famous, because if he didn't have such a strong desire, he wouldn't have to bother to put such a particular restraint on himself.
You might think it's just some dissatisfied 20 something year old's view on life. But it is so much more. Keep reading. For goodness sake, just keep reading for the fat lady.
Franny: Young Franny Glass has a terrible time visiting her long distance boyfriend.
Zooey: The youngest two Glass children discuss theology, their irritability with others, and the beauty of all things.
Salinger's best can be found in "Franny and Zooey."
Sure, Franny is a histrionic drama-queen, and Zooey is a megalomaniacal, friendless jerk, who treats everyone around him as second-rate, but by the book's end, you understand how their childhoods (or lack thereof) have molded them this way.
Franny has a sort of nervous breakdown, and she decides that reciting "The Jesus Prayer," as prescribed in a little book called "Journey of the Pilgrim," will eventually grant her peace. Her know-it-all brother, Zooey, lays into her, telling her that if she's going to pray "The Jesus Prayer," she needs to understand who Jesus was, and not picture Him as St. Francis of Assisi, somebody's grandmother, and their dead eldest brother, Seymour, rolled up into one. There are lots of philosophies and religious doctrines batted around, but it all boils down to a difficult brother caring for his difficult sister.
I've read this book ten times, at least, and the most satisfying have been when I read all the Zooey lines aloud. (Yes, this must confuse the hell out of my neighbors, but the dialogue is so strong and rich, that it cries out to be heard and spoken, not just read silently.)
Try "Franny and Zooey." If you can forgive the two title characters, you'll find a rich and rewarding read.