Hapworth 16, 1924 Literary Techniques

J. D. Salinger

Literary Techniques

Salinger appears to have departed from the traditional mode of narration here. Buddy actually introduces or presents Seymour's long letter with its account of his own psyche and his experiences at camp, and of his and Buddy's literary productions. First-person narration notwithstanding, there is such a degree of authorial self-indulgence in the story that Salinger seems not to have kept in mind the needs of his common readers. Seymour's discussion of his life and activities, his opinions and his arrogant "talking down" to his parents and siblings are all too preposterous to be taken at face value. Seymour's letter from camp does not even seem to represent wishful thinking, stream-of-consciousness fantasy, metafiction, or satire.

Warren French is also critical of the excesses and bombastic pretentiousness of the Seymour letter. He suggests that Salinger, because of his self-imposed isolation from the general public, had lost his touch and (just as when he had earlier mishandled a speaking engagement) had "gotten carried away by his own enthusiasm and [attendant] tensions," and could no longer handle his material. A more plausible explanation seems to be that Salinger knew his material all too well— since some of his own mystical philosophy was apparently transferred to his story characters—and felt that despite his popular success, the audience would never really understand what he was getting at, and therefore he might as well write to please himself,...

(The entire section is 267 words.)