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Franny And Zooey

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In the novel, Franny and Zooey by J.D Salinger, it is overwhelmed with many themes; the novel also reveals an important message on finding ones self and dealing with the difficulties and struggles of life; these themes consist of religion, egos, and culture. Franny Glass struggles with the phoniness and egotism that spreads through society. She longs to escape her problems and decides to get away from it by withdrawing into spirituality religious values through the Jesus Prayer. She soon realizes the down fall of her solution and through her pains and challenges; she learns how to deal with social unpleasantness. Franny learns that she needs to shed her egotism and act unselfishly. The novel also has many different symbols with meanings to them that relate to the book a lot.

Throughout the book, Franny gets more involved into religion. Franny seems to be looking for something in her complicated life. She turns to one of Seymour's old books, entitled The Way of a Pilgrim. This books is about a peasant man in search of understanding, how to pray without ceasing, so he can reach some sort of religious enlightenment. This man somehow relates to Franny, as the man is searching for happiness and Franny for a different reason. She begins to get interested in the Jesus Prayer in an effort to purge herself of the phoniness and ego she finds in herself. By constantly praying to Jesus, the person who prays is gifted with "Christ-Consciousness," in Zooey's words, and can "see God", in Franny's words. "'The Jesus Prayer has one aim, and one aim only. To endow the person who says it with Christ-Consciousness.'" (Salinger. 89) At the end of the novel, Franny figures out that not only does one interact with Jesus through the prayer, but through all human race, since everyone carries Christ in him or herself. The Jesus Prayer has more to do with love than with religion. The novel also has very much to do with Buddhist thoughts, mostly about the idea of "no-knowledge." To achieve wisdom, the Buddhist must clear his head of any negative thoughts or distractions. This process is totally opposite to Western education, the education that Franny and Zooey live in, which is mentioned a lot of times in the book and stuffs its students with knowledge. Franny criticizes that the poets at her school does not describe anything beautiful in their work, but only get into her head. She is disappointed in herself, as well, for trying to save wisdom through the Jesus Prayer as others save knowledge. But what she does not know is that true "no-knowledge" cannot be saved.

In the beginning of the book, it shows that Franny's boyfriend, Lane, has the biggest ego in the book. The course to Buddhist "no-knowledge" is very difficult to do. The person would have to let go of their personal ego and selfish concerns to reach open minded beauty. Franny dislikes her professors at her school because they are absorbed in their own egos, and whatever detachment they have is and detachment from humanity. Buddhists try to get rid of their negativity ego and gain up the positive part of the ego. Zooey tells Franny she has to act, as that is her God-given talent, and use her ego as best she can. Franny cannot let the negative part of her ego interfere by making her criticize the other actors. Instead, she must focus only on her own part, and do the best she can. Seymour's diary entry, describing his family and how they forgot his birthday, is a good example of this positive use of ego. Buddy Glass says that his writing suffers from being too "clever," and sometimes his complicated writing style is difficult to understand. Combining his problems with ego is J.D. Salinger's himself, as there are many similarities between Buddy and Salinger. Both are students of Zen, both have been writing stories since they were 15, both live in cabins. In this sense, the egotism of "Zooey" is not that big of a deal. In the same vein, Zooey's advice to Franny at the end of the novel is also an example of his mellow ego. He gives her the advice while in Seymour and Buddy's old room. He loses his own ego and shares it with others, just as Salinger shares it with Buddy and the Glass Children.

Salinger gives the reader an all out critique against American middle class culture. The 1950s are well known for being a time of traditional values, and Franny is mad over everyone's desire to be just a like. She also points out that the people who rebel are just as the followers. Lane, especially, is the idle boy of the middle class traditional values. He believes he is different from everyone else, but he really craves for acceptance from other people. Salinger gives a few ideas and causes of Lane's obsession with traditional values. Being a celebrity is a major part in the lives of the Glass children, especially Franny and Zooey, who are still performers. While basically everyone begs to be a celebrity, or stand out, celebrities only make the Glass family look bad. The public admires them as geniuses or hates them as know it alls, but either way, they are not normal, they are

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