Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

J. D. Salinger’s early stories, which appeared first in The New Yorker and were later collected under the title Nine Stories (1953), all concern children or adolescents. Salinger seems to believe (with William Wordsworth) that the young are the true visionaries of society and that their consciences are untainted and unencumbered with the hypocrisy and evasions that are common to the daily activities of the adult world. Salinger’s stories also emphasize the quest for meaning and for an understanding of existence characterized by Zen Buddhism and the approach to satori (oneness with all things, enlightenment, and ultimate acceptance and awareness of self). Salinger’s characters are often self-deprecating but nearly always self-analytical as well. They typify a type of behavior, popular following World War II, of disengagement and disaffection, a refusal to participate fully in the adult social apparatus but a less than complete withdrawal from these habits as well. The involved yet uninvolved upper-middle-class teenager of the 1950’s can be seen to perfection in the character of Salinger’s most famous adolescent, Holden Caulfield, the hero of The Catcher in the Rye (1951).

Certain characteristics of De Daumier-Smith’s reminiscence are symbolically suggested by the title, which refers to a period in the artistic development of the contemporary painter Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), whose “Blue Period” (1901-1904) was...

(The entire section is 511 words.)