Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Frances (Franny) Glass
Frances (Franny) Glass, the youngest of the seven extraordinary Glass children and focus of the “Franny” section of the book. She is a bright twenty-one-year-old college student and gifted actress who is in painful conflict with herself and the world. She is uneasy with the superficiality of her surroundings and their clash of egos. Her profound wish is for a spiritual dimension that would give her life a substance beyond all the posturing, grasping, and self-absorption that threatens to engulf her. Repressing her own feelings, she observes and feels guilty about her own disingenuousness. She is disgusted by her culture’s artistic, educational, and religious forms of pretentiousness. In contrast to her pedantic boyfriend, she sees her deceased brother Seymour as the apotheosis of the pure poet. While having lunch at a fashionable restaurant with her boyfriend, she breaks out in a cold sweat and faints in the restroom. She feels that she is losing her mind and experiences an acute spiritual and psychological crisis. As a young woman who espouses self-effacement, she fears that as an aspiring actress she may be heading down the path of narcissism. A breakdown follows, and she quits the theater. She recuperates at her family’s apartment in Manhattan with the help of her brother Zooey.
Lane Coutell, an Ivy League undergraduate and Franny Glass’s boyfriend. He is shallow,...
(The entire section is 767 words.)
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Salinger excels in the creation of characterizations so strong that plot can become inconsequential. Franny and Zooey exemplifies this, and very little by the way of action occurs. Instead, the story emphasizes character-shaping through abundant dialogue. In the first and shorter section titled "Franny," the twenty-yearold baby of the Glass family meets with her one-time-boyfriend Lane. Lane's function remains that of the "average" self-aggrandizing Ivy League pseudointellectual, allowing him to act as foil to the naive Franny who still possesses brilliant potential as an introspective human. Lane is described by a disdainful Zooey in the second part of the novel as one of those "white-shoe college boys who edit their campus literary magazines." Zooey follows his assessment with the statement, "Give me an honest con man any day." Mrs. Glass, in contrast to her cynical son, describes Lane as just "a young boy not out of college yet." This allows a transition into a discussion of Zooey's acerbic personality, rather than providing any true enlightenment regarding Lane's character.
In Franny's interaction with Lane, a struggle with an unidentified internal conflict is revealed. The conflict arises due to a slim volume that Franny identifies only as required reading for a religion course. When Lane asks to read the book that seems to have so upset Franny, she tells him with an irony later made clear that she cannot loan it out, because the book is...
(The entire section is 1263 words.)