J. D. Salinger Short Fiction Analysis
The main characters of J. D. Salinger, neurotic and sensitive people, search unsuccessfully for love in a metropolitan setting. They see the phoniness, egotism, and hypocrisy around them. There is a failure of communication between people: between husbands and wives, between soldiers in wartime, between roommates in schools. A sense of loss, especially the loss of a sibling, recurs frequently. Many of his stories have wartime settings and involve characters who have served in World War II. Some of these characters cannot adjust to the military, some have unhappy marital relationships, and others are unsuccessful in both areas. The love for children occurs frequently in his stories—for example, the love for Esmé, Phoebe, and Sybil. Like William Wordsworth, Salinger appreciates childhood innocence. Children have a wisdom and a spontaneity that is lost in the distractions and temptations of adult life.
Salinger’s early stories contain elements foreshadowing his later work. Many of these stories are concerned with adolescents. In “The Young Folks,” however, the adolescents resemble the insensitive schoolmates of Holden Caulfield more than they resemble Holden himself. Salinger demonstrates his admirable ear for teenage dialogue in these stories.
The reader sees how often members of the Glass family are present in the stories or novelettes. Looking back at Salinger’s early works, one sees how these selections can be related to events in...
(The entire section is 3490 words.)
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