Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The perennial themes of J. D. Salinger’s stories are present in “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut.” His satire often deals with upper-middle-class alienation amid the complacency of the Eisenhower era. “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” is a story in this vein. The author characterizes Eloise and Mary Jane as modern, cynical suburbanites who are not always morally scrupulous and have never been meticulously honest. Eloise has been expelled from the university for an incident with a soldier in her residence hall. Mary Jane’s marriage to an aviator cadet is marred by his imprisonment for two months after stabbing a member of the Military Police. It is assumed that Mary Jane will have to lie to explain her failure to reach her employer’s house in Larchmont after her drunken afternoon with Eloise. Eloise seems unashamed and undisturbed when she lies to her husband about Mary Jane’s car keys. She also seems to be offhand and casual in the extreme in performing her duties as a mother. The very fact that Ramona needs an imaginary friend who has “no mommy and no daddy” relates directly to her feelings toward her parents.

It is clear from the way that Eloise refers to Lew, her husband, that she has by now lost all respect for him and prefers to escape through alcohol rather than come to terms with her situation soberly.

Eloise and Mary Jane in their reminiscences seek an earlier manifestation of their lives, before they made the mistakes...

(The entire section is 581 words.)