Salinger's Franny And Zoey Essay

3447 words - 14 pages

Salinger's Franny and Zoey

It is the consensus of most critics that Seymour Glass is the most important character and the leader of the Glass family. This is a point that is obvious from the stories that Salinger has written about the Glass family. Seymour is looked up to and revered by all the children in the family and is his mothers “favorite, most intricately calibrated, her kindest son”(Franny 89). When catastrophe strikes in Franny and Zooey, the only person Franny wants to talk to is Seymour. Why is Seymour the most important person in the Glass family?

Seymour is the eldest child. Therefore, all will come after him. In a sense, nothing new can be done after Seymour has done it. All that is left is to imitate and learn from the child genius. This is what all the Glass children seem to do. In Franny and Zooey, we learn that Seymour and Buddy educated all of the children. Together, the eldest boys of the Glass family taught their siblings literature, philosophy, and religion.

Seymour was also looked up to and relied upon by the children of his family. In Seymour: an Introduction, we learn that Seymour and Buddy were both active in taking care of their younger siblings but there was a slight difference in the reactions of the children to each of them. Buddy says:

When Seymour told one of the twins …to take off his or her rubbers on coming into
the apartment, each and all of them knew he mostly mean that the floor would get
tracked up if they didn’t and that Bessie would have to get out the mop. When I told
them to take off their rubbers, they knew I mostly meant that people who didn’t were
slobs. (193-194)

This is an important difference because it shows how both Buddy and Seymour were leaders. Seymour was a leader because the children idolized him. Buddy was a leader because he wanted to be, even though it was not as accepted. Also, Buddy is a leader because he is naturally responsible and does what he is told. The main difference between the children’s reactions to the two is that of an equal versus a parent. Buddy sounds like a parent but Seymour sounds like an equal.

Seymour is also the resident problem solver. We see the evidence of this in Seymour when Buddy tells a story about his younger brother Waker. It was late on the night of Walt and Waker’s birthday when Seymour and Buddy came upon a fight in the living room. Apparently the young Waker had given away his new birthday present to a boy in the park. His parents were incensed that Waker had given it away just because the boy had asked for it. When it becomes clear that the argument will not be solved in this way, Seymour steps in and Buddy says “… and I knew, from experience, that peace in our living room was about to be restored, however miraculously”(240).

The final reason why Seymour is considered the main character of the Glass family narrative is that he continues to leave his mark on his...

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