Discussion Day : Franny & Zooey, Part 2

[Updated:     Discussion Week?    I was not feeling well when I wrote this post and my vacation from blogging seems to have put my thinking brain to sleep – I felt quite inadequate leading a discussion of this book when it’s quite a deep text!     So anyway…    Thank you to Jeanne for participating!   YOU ROCK.   Somebody give her some awesome blog award because she deserves one.  or more.      See comments and click over to her blog if you don’t know her…

and I added MY answers to my questions on Monday, July 12.]

Well, clubbers, I have woken up with the flu!    You don’t really need to read a litany of complaints but suffice it to say I feel awful.  I will however, as a good book club facilitator, attempt a few questions for anyone to comment on.    Here we go:

DISCUSSION DAY FRANNY & ZOOEY Original post with the full idea… (and links to other stuff)

1.  Did you like the stories?

I started off the Franny piece quite skeptical.   But the mystery of what was going on with Franny – personally I was rooting for her to ditch the college Frat boy and then I was scared she was preggers – and then it got interesting.   Then it ended!   Zooey was fabulous in how it developed the characters and explains Franny’s situation.   I also enjoyed the humor.    The setup of how the text was also unique in that it is narrated by someone not really there – um, I mean, I assume that it was the older brother who is narrating and yet he wasn’t in the house that day.    Now I have to go back and re-read because I don’t recall the ending.   I never seem to remember how stories END – I only remember (or not) if I liked it or not.   And by ‘like’ I mean did it provoke any emotion.    This one did.    I can’t recall exactly what emotion, other than it changed some neurons in a memorable way. Brain is still muddled.   I don’t feel very smart right now.  OK, I just re-read the ending.    As Jeanne says about the Fat Lady – we all have an audience in mind, perhaps?    I’m going to take a stab at a theme here: do your best – that’s all the universe wants?   Yep, I will re-read the whole book someday.   It’s a re-readable one.  Whodda thunk I’d ever say such a thing!   See what blogging has done to me?!

2.   Could you relate to any characters?

I’m going to skip this and jump to the next question.

3.   Ever had an existential crisis of your own?

Why yes, I think I have.   And I was in college.   (Honestly I have existential ‘wonderings’ quite often – I’m always pondering what I should be DOING with my life.  Since I assume no one is really going to read this anyway, I’ll share!   ha.)    OK, in college when I was really not doing well one semester, I decided to change majors.  Aw, but to WHAT?!    Since I couldn’t figure that question out, I schedule a light semester with minimum full-time credit hours:   Glee Club (2 hours – can you believe it?!)   Student Senate was 1 credit hour – woo hoo!!, Biology – 5, The History of France from whatever years were the Rev to Napoleon (on a dare – a History major in my sorority was debating that Engineering wasn’t an EDUCATION but a training and shouldn’t be part of a true university (blahblahblah) and that a monkey could do what I was studying.    She challenged me to take a history class so I did.  LOVED it.)   Where was I and why am I telling you this?  OH!   My crisis!   Actually,  take all that back, the EC was the semester before that was hard and made me cry.  Whatever.    The poetry I wrote during those bleak months was  (pause, pause) bleak.   And no, sorry;  I didn’t save any of it.

4.  How familiar are you with the philosophies shared?    I wouldn’t really call this ‘religious’, would you?

I had not heard of the Pilgrim.  I was struck by the possibly Fifties-era use of the word ‘Orient’ to categorize some of the religions discussed and no, I’m probably more aware than most but do not consider myself knowledgeable about Buddhism, Hindu, etc.     I would have guessed that the decade for analysis of ego and all the rage to have a ‘therapist’ was in the Seventies but I am even less knowledgeable about that.    So, yes, a bit surprised that this was from the 50s.

5.  Seeing how these stories were first published in the New Yorker (and not the Kansas Prairie Daily Journal), who do you think was the intended audience Salinger was writing to?   What WAS he trying to say?

I have no idea.   I based this question on my midwestern notion that New Yorkers are all intellectual snobs.   No offense!   But there IS a difference in attitudes around the country, wouldn’t you agree?   *smiles*

6.    I got the sense that Salinger was quite supportive of the Dramatic Arts;  that acting is a true and noble profession.   Or was he going for something else?

This question is based on my having my preconceptions blown away.   I thought it was going to be all “New Yorkers ARE intellectually superior to anyone else living and toiling away in the USA” (again, sorry) and yet, Salinger presented humor, deep thoughts but NOT inaccessible thoughts (aha!  midwestern inferiority complex!) and gentle skilled subtle use of those empathy words:   sympathy or empathy or ???.     (I only took an Industrial Psychology class in college….)   I was expecting more scorn and cynicism.

7.   Are you aware that an unauthorized film adaption of Franny & Zooey was filmed in Iran in 1995?   Me, neither.    It was called PARI, directed by Dariush Mehrjui.

OK, I can’t think of anything else (I can’t think at all!) – my brain is all befuddled while the rest of my body aches and reels.    Anyone have anything significant to add – I know I missed it here.

Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved.
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16 thoughts on “Discussion Day : Franny & Zooey, Part 2

  1. Sorry to hear you’re under the weather.

    I have to say that I’m not surprised that this would be one of a thinking actor’s favorite books.

    I reread Franny and Zooey this week and found myself enjoying the “story” (what there is of it) less and the comments more. For example, I completely agree that “if you’re a poet, you do something beautiful. I mean you’re supposed to leave something beautiful after you get off the page and everything.” Although it’s hard to pin down what Salinger means by “beauty,” I interpret this as meaning that the purpose of poetry is enjoyment. A thing of beauty is a joy forever, as Keats says.

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you reread it and took notes. I was so disorganized and sluggish, I haven’t even been able to locate my book-notes journal yet.
      I think I have such an image of Salinger being a harsh negative cynic that his using he word ‘beauty’ at all, challenges my assumptions. There was gentle positiveness in this book as Zooey attempted to reach out and comfort Franny even while he was frustrated with her AND himself.

  2. sorry, I had to break off (I’m at a chess tournament, the wireless is slow, and the chess player needed lunch)
    I also enjoyed this bit, because I think many mothers feel like this, at a certain age:
    “Where once Bessie Glass’s eyes alone could…report these facts, with an eloquence and a seeming passion for detail that neither her husband nor any of her adult surviving children could bear to look at, let alone take in, now, in 1955, she was apt to use this same terrible Celtic equipment to break the news, usually at the front door, that the new delivery boy hadn’t brought the leg of lamb in time for dinner or that some remote Hollywood starlet’s marriage was on the rocks.”

    And I like the idea that “the religious life, and all the agony that goes with it, is just something God sicks on people who have the gall to accuse Him of having created an ugly world.”

    I think the answer Zooey gets to at the end of the book–that there’s isn’t anyone out there who isn’t Seymour’s fat lady–is something that not only performers could think about, but also bloggers. It could keep us from some of the kinds of ego that Franny despises and Zooey makes fine distinctions about.

    1. Fascinating! I, too, thought the quote on religious life interesting.
      Where does the concept of ‘the Fat Lady’ come from? Broadway or Vaudeville?
      Did you know (have you read?) the story about Seymour? I just discovered its existence in Asylum’s review.

      1. I’m not sure that the image of the fat lady is a stock image–certainly she’s always a figure of fun–an opera is never over until she sings–but they’re humanizing her.

        And yes, I read the story about Seymour and thought he was a prat.

        1. A prat! great word. The Zooey story was almost ambivalent towards him. What with the regret that he and the other brother ‘screwed them up’ with their education philosophy (and his demise was a bit of proof on that?), he was missed mostly for not sticking around and helping with the family, so to speak. So, yes. He WAS a prat. Still a great word.

    1. Thanks, I’m already feeling better (next day – but brain is still foggy).
      Salinger is one of those authors that you tend to create an image of from the media and influences the enjoyment of the works, unfortunately. At least for me. But I did end up liking these stories when the first few pages had me rolling my eyes with assuming it was going to be high-brow East Coast Intellectual snobbery.

  3. Anon Spammer 2

    I regret, that I can not participate in discussion now. It is not enough information. But this theme me very much interests.

    1. Aw, I regret, too, that you are unable to participate! I don’t think I need to provide any more information – did you read it or not?! What theme interests you exactly?

    1. Now, I’ve had people tell me, “You aint right.” and I wouldn’t disagree, but I don’t think you are saying the same kind of thing.
      What’s ‘in PM’? do you mean in the evening? Why exactly would I want to talk to you?

      I think not.

  4. I read this a few years ago and had a similar reactions. I loved the Zooey section and wasn’t a huge fan of Franny’s. One thing that I’ve always remembered was the description of their home and the quotes written all over the walls. I love that.

  5. Awww, Care! I hope you feel better soon. It sucks to be sick in the summer. I’m still waiting for my copy of Franny and Zooey but the second I get it, I’m digging it! 🙂 Feel better soon.

  6. Anon Spammer 3

    Whats’s Up im new here, I came upon this message board I have found It absolutely accessible and its helped me tons. I hope to contribute and aid others like it has helped me.

    Thank You, See Ya Later

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