Catch it




Many critics consider J.D. Salinger a very controversial writer,
for the subject matters that he writes.. J.D. Salinger’s works were
generally written during two time periods. The first time period was
during World War II, and the second time period was during the 1960’s.
Critics feel that the works during the 1960 time period were very
inappropriate, because of the problems for which he wrote. The main
characters were generally misfits of society. In most of his works,
he has the protagonist of the story go on a quest for happiness.
Salinger does not conform to the material happiness; the characters
undergo a spiritual happiness. The characters generally start out as
in bad conditions, through the end of his works they undergone changes
that change them for the better.
The works of J.D. Salinger show the quest for happiness through
religion, loneliness, and symbolism. Salinger’s works often use
religion in order to portray comfort. In Salinger’s Nine Stories
Franny Glass keeps reciting the "Jesus Prayer" to cope with the
suicide of her brother Seymour (Bloom in Bryfonski and Senick 69).
Salinger is able to use this prayer as a means of comfort for Franny.
The prayer stands for the last hope for Franny in this situation.
Franny would be lost if their was no prayer. (Bryfonski and Senick
71). Salinger shows us comfort in Catcher in the Rye. Holden
Caufield, the protagonist, is very much in despair for losing his
girlfriend, so Caufield reads a passage in the Bible. This helps
Holden change his outlook on life (Salzberg 75). Holden was all alone
at this point and had no one to turn back on, until he found the Bible
(Salzberg 76). In both stories the characters had found themselves in
bad situations. The characters in these works have obstacles which
they must overcome in order to achieve happiness (Salzman 34).
Happiness is the very substance which all of these characters are
striving for in Salinger’s works. Salinger uses religion in his works
to comfort them so that they can proceed on their quest to achieve
happiness. Salinger uses religion as a means for liberation. Salinger
uses much of the Zen philosophy, as in the case of Nine Stories, to
achieve this liberation (Madsen 93). In Nine Stories one of the
characters, Seymour Glass, is portrayed as Buddha in the sense that he
wants to be liberated as Buddha was in his life (Madsen 93). Seymour
Glass in Nine Stories has a certain philosophy about life, it is
similar to the Eightfold Path used by Buddha when achieving nirvana
(French in Matuz 212). Seymour Glass is on a quest to become free
from all of the suffering in his life as Buddha was from his life
(French in Matuz 213). Seymour follows the Eightfold path to become
liberated from suffering (Madsen 96). Seymour achieves "nirvana" by
living a good life and end anything that causes suffering. Seymour is
able to attain nirvana by committing suicide (Lundquist in Matuz 211).
Salinger shows us that when Seymour committed suicide he let go of
all of the suffering that he encountered, thus attaining the happiness
he longed for (French, Salinger Revisited 132). Salinger shows
liberation as an end to all suffering, thus creating happiness for the
character. (French, Salinger Revisited 133). The final function of
religion as a means to attain happiness was to gain peace In "The
Young Lion," Salinger uses religion to gain peace through a
fictitious war. In the story many of the soldiers were dying and the
countries were in turmoil (Lundquist 312). The leaders in the story
see a vision on the battlefield that changes them, and stops the war
(Lundquist 315). Salinger shows how religion can be a force used to
create happiness in a story, by creating peace (Lundquist 313).
Salinger is able to use religion as a means of attaining happiness
through peace. The story seemed very dismal, until religion
intervened and stopped the conflict. Salinger creates happiness for
the characters by stopping the conflict. In "The Stranger" Salinger
creates peace through a war by using more of the Zen philosophy.
Salinger’s creates a "Pact of Peace" which stops the conflict between
the Germans and Polish during WWII (Hamilton in Bryfonski