Comparative essya franny and Zooey razors edge Essay

This essay has a total of 3673 words and 15 pages.


Comparative essya franny and Zooey razors edge




Many novels use religion as the central object of their plot. Franny and Zooey, by J.D
Salinger and The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham both display religion as having they
key role in their novels. Religion is the main guide in Franny and Zooey and The Razor’s
Edge for the search of meaning. During the search for meaning the two main characters
Franny Glass and Larry Darrel, use religion as an escape from everyday life and from bad
memories. Secondly, these two characters put important factors of their lives on hold,
which leads their loved ones to disagree with their search for meaning. Nevertheless,
both characters benefit from their religious experiences.


Both Franny Glass of Franny and Zooey and Larry Darrel of The Razor’s Edge turn to
religion as an escape rout from their everyday lives and disturbing memories. They have
become annoyed and dissatisfied with their ordinary lives and the individual values and
goals in their everyday lives. While Franny was dining with her boyfriend, Lane, she
describes the atmosphere around her and how she feels about the theatre department and how
sick she is of everyone close to her.

“I’m not afraid to compete. It’s just the opposite. Don’t you see that? I’m afraid I
will – compete – that’s what scares me. That’s why I quit the theatre department. Just
because I’m so horribly conditioned and people to rave about me, doesn’t make it right.
I’m ashamed of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I’m sick
of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of splash.”1


This also occurs in The Razor’s Edge. After Elliot Templeton’s death, Larry describes how
worthless Elliot’s life really was.

“An old, kind friend. It made me sad to think how silly, useless, and trivial his life
had been. It mattered very little now that he had gone to so many parties and has
hobnobbed with all those princes, dukes, and counts. They had forgotten him already.”2


Both of theses examples show how, Franny and Larry do not want to be a part of the
stylized like of their societies. Franny was part of a large family in which each sibling
was an actor or actress at one point in their lives. Franny was expected to lead a very
prestigious life. Attending university in honors program, and becoming a wonderful
actress. She wanted to get away; as to what one could, say was her planned life. In
addition, Larry did not want to end up like Elliot because Elliot spent his entire life
only caring about the stylized life of their societies. Larry did not want to become like
Elliot in the sense of materialism, Larry wanted to make something of his life. Both
characters, Franny and Larry, realized they needed something to help release them from
their invaluable ways of life. Secondly, both characters have gone through many traumatic
experiences that led them to have undesirable memories. After Seymour’s suicide in 1955,
Franny was never the same person. She was feeling the same sort of pressure that Seymour
did and she began to have a mental breakdown.

“The child’s laying there by the hour crying her eyes out it you say boo to her, and
mumbling heaven knows what to herself, and your father wonders if maybe she’d like a
tangerine.”3


Zooey described Franny as a very disturbed and depressed individual, trying to seek a way
of life through religion, in which she did not even completely understand herself.

“Worse than that, though, I can’t see – I swear to God I can’t – how you can pray to a
Jesus you don’t even understand. And what’s really inexcusable, considering that you’ve
been funnel-fed on just about the same amount of religious philosophy that I have what’s
really inexcusable is that you don’t try to understand him.”4


Secondly, in The Razor’s Edge, Maugham’s first discussion with Larry was about Larry’s
explanation as to why he did not want to attend school and do something with his life.
Larry explains this by saying:

“When I came back from France they all wanted me to go to college. I couldn’t. After
what I’d been through, I felt I couldn’t go back to school. I learnt nothing at my prep
school anyway. I felt I couldn’t enter into a freshman’s life. They wouldn’t have liked
me. I didn’t want to act a part I didn’t feel. And I didn’t think the instructor would
teach me the sort of things I wanted to know.”5


In the first two examples, Franny was beginning to realize the effect a prestigious way of
life has on a person. She understood that she did not want to end up like her brother
Seymour with all the pressure that was upon her, and that she needed to search for another
way to live her life. Franny took into consideration the long, boring talks she had with
Zooey and was only starting to realize that Zooey was not just bugging her or criticizing
the religion she chose to believe in, but he was only trying to help her move on with her
life and start over again. In addition, Larry tries to escape from his vivid memory of
the death of a close friend in the war. His emotional disturbance leads to his search for
meaning and what life is all about, which did not involve going back to school and
furthering his education. Larry feels that by losing his friend it has taught him, that
one should take life and it is experiences as they come instead of rushing through life
trying to do everything all at once. Larry feels that an individual should relax and
enjoy life by exploring the world and the religion that is present in everyday life,
whether an individual chooses to explore it or ignore it, one should realize that it is
there. While using religion as an escape route, Franny and Larry also ended up putting
many important factors in their lives on hold.


When Franny and Larry begin their search for meaning, they forget about many different,
but very important factors in their lives. Both characters put their academic careers and
schooling on hold. Franny, who had the potential to become a wonderful actress, tries to
explain to Lane why she would give up something as important as the theatre department
Franny explains:

“I just quit, that’s all, it started embarrassing me. I began to feel like such a nasty
little egomaniac. I don’t know. It seemed like such a poor taste, sort of, to want to
act in the first place. I mean all the ego.”6


Furthermore, in The Razor’s Edge, Larry did not go back to school after the war, but he
did have a great opportunity to be his best friend Gray Maturin’s partner in a successful
business operation, which he later rejected. Elliot could not understand why Larry would
turn down this kind opportunity. Elliot explains what Larry could have had with these
words:

“Larry had a chance of getting in on the ground floor, and if he kept his nose to the
grindstone he might well be many times a millionaire by the time he was forty.”7


Notice how in both of these examples they each turned down the most valuable career money
wise. It is quite oblivious that they did not feel complete with a good paying job.
Franny actually used the word “embarrassment” while describing her job as an actress.
Obliviously she felt ashamed of what she was doing with her life, and the people she was
associating with. Franny did not want to become an actress because mostly everyone in her
family was one and she did not like the pressures that were being placed upon her to be
the best. She felt embarrassed and did not like to act, she wanted to live her life how
she wanted not how everyone else wanted her too. In addition, Larry puts it quite bluntly
that he does not want the career offered by Mr. Maturin and Elliot has a disgusted opinion
of him right away for not taking the job. Elliot’s shock that a man could reject this
sort of offer just exhibits how materialistic the people surrounding Larry’s environment
are. Both Franny and Larry disagree with the people around them, that wealth brings
happiness. Another very important factor that both characters sacrificed was their
relationships with their loved ones. While Franny tries to explain the Jesus prayer to
Zooey, she becomes so frustrated with his questioning that she ends up insulting her
closest and favorite brother.

“Oh shut up! Just start, if your going to. All I ask is that you at least try to be a
little bit tactful, the way I’m feeling right now – that’s all. You are without a doubt
the most tactless person I’ve ever known in my life. Your absolutely the most
unsympathetic person I’ve ever known. You are!”8


Secondly, Larry has a chance of marriage with Isabel who he cares for very much, but his
voyage to search for meaning does not appeal to her at all. Isabel does not approve of
his search and therefore will not marry him until he is ready to settle down.

“But Larry, she interrupted him desperately. Don’t you see you’re asking something of me
that I’m not fitted for, that I’m not interested in? How often do I have to repeat to you
that I’m just happy an ordinary normal girl. Larry if you love me you wouldn’t make me so
unhappy.”9


Franny becomes so frustrated in trying to explain the reasoning behind her prayer that she
ends up becoming bitter towards Zooey. The tone that is used while insulting Zooey gives
the impression of serious frustration and extreme anger. She describes him as being
tactless and unsympathetic, which is very ironic because he is sympathizing with her and
trying to get a better understanding so he can not only help her but also improve her way
of life. The quote above from the novel Franny and Zooey show Franny’s extreme anger
Continues for 8 more pages >>




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