October 7, 2012


The second part of the book is entitled Zooey. Salinger introduced Zooey as the leading man "who has made the most eloquent appeal" for him. And that "He feels that the plot hinges on mysticism, or religious mystification". Salinger explained that for him he knows the difference of mystical and love story. "I say that my current offering isn't a mystical story, or a religiously mystifying story, at all. I say it's a compound, or multiple, love story, pure & complicated."

It begins with Zooey who is sitting in the bathtub, smoking a cigarette and reading a four-year-old letter from Buddy, his older brother. A lot of things were discussed by Buddy in that letter. One is reminding Zooey to be kinder to Bessie not just because she's their mother but because she is weary. Another is reminding him to get a Ph.D. rather than focusing more on being an actor. He explained that Bessie wants them to become successful in life and that she insisted him to write about Ph.Ds and acting for Zooey. 

Buddy and Seymour studied Religion and Philosophy. They educated the younger siblings, Zooey and Franny about it when they were young. So as they grow up, they become preoccupied with Religion. In Buddy's words, he shared something what Seymour had believed on education: "Education by any name would smell as sweet, and maybe much sweeter, if it didn't begin with a quest for knowledge at all but with a quest, as Zen would put it, for no-knowledge."  He said something about what Dr. Suzuki said that "to be in a state of pure consciousness is to be with God before he said, Let there be light"  Buddy and Seymour thought of holding back this light or knowledge from them until they are in the state of being where the mind knows the source of all light. In the end, Buddy told Zooey to act if it is what he wants and instructed to do it with all his might. He will always have his support at whatever distance.

Zooey was interrupted by Bessie. Arguments on Buddy not getting a phone, Lane, and, of course, Franny arise. Bessie is so worried about Franny and eventually Zooey revealed the crisis Franny is going through. He admitted that Franny has been reading The Way Of The Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way. It's a book owned by Buddy and Seymour and it tackles on Religion. He told Bessie that their brothers are responsible of what they are going through -- that they can't live like normal people their age do because they are preoccupied too much by Religion. 

Eventually, the two siblings, Franny and Zooey were able to talk. Zooey is criticizing her by the way she deals with what she's going through, mostly about the way she says her prayer. For him, Franny didn't get the whole idea of prayer. And that she seems idolizing other stuff and not seeing the specific. The two argued. "God Almighty, Franny. If you're going to say the Jesus Prayer, at least say it to Jesus... Keep him in mind if you say it, and him only, and him as he was and not as you'd like him to have been. You don't face any facts. This same damned attitude of not facing facts is what got you into this messy state of mind in the first place, and it can't possibly get you out of it." 

What is wrong with Franny's prayer? It is that she doesn't focus on the specific. That the specific is Him and only Him. But instead, she thinks of St. Francis of Assisi among others. Zooey insisted that if she doesn't understand Jesus, she wouldn't understand the meaning of prayer at all. He is surprised on how Franny couldn't see or realize it. He knows she's intelligent but she refuses to see what it really is. "You're misusing the prayer, you're using it to ask for a world full of dolls and saints..." 

Zooey left the room. Franny was sobbing inside. Zooey went to Seymour and Buddy's room. The two elder siblings have a separate phone line in the house. Zooey called the phone house, impersonating Buddy and trying to talk to Franny. For a while, Franny realized it wasn't Buddy who she was talking to. She knew it was Zooey. And from that time, Zooey continued what he knows is best for his sister. That he should give her wisdom to open her mind, to the reality, to help her with what's going on with her mind. Franny listened.

Both of them are actors ever since they were young. They were part of a show called "It's A Wise Child". Franny was disappointed with acting because she couldn't find any meaning of it. Zooey could see that. And in their argument, he connected Religion to acting: "You can say the Jesus Prayer from now till doomsday, but if you don't realize that the only thing that counts in the religious life is detachment. 'Cessanation from all hankerings.' ... You not only had a hankering to be an actor or an actress but to be a good one. You're stuck with it now. You can't just walk out on the results of your own hankerings. Cause and effect, buddy. Cause and effect. The only thing that you can do now, the only religious thing you can do, is act. Act for God, if you want to -- be God's actress, if you want to. What could be prettier?"

Zooey was trying to say that she should know by now that an actress should act, not just talk. He shared something to Franny about Seymour back when they were doing the show "It's a Wise Child". Seymour told Zooey to shine his shoes but he doesn't want to. Because everyone in the audience and all that are watching them are morons. And that they wouldn't be able to see it anyway. But Seymour said to shine his shoes for the Fat Lady. Franny eventually told him that she was told about this Fat Lady by Seymour as well. But she doesn't know who that lady was. Zooey, of course, realized this embodiment. The Fat Lady wasn't one of the audience or anyone in connection with Seymour. "Do you know who that Fat Lady really is? .. It's Christ Himself, buddy. Christ Himself." 

A dial tone. A disconnection of a long conversation from the start with Zooey. It all made sense to Franny. She got wisdom. She had it all. And she seemed to know just what to do next.

For some minutes, before she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep, she just lay quiet, smiling at the ceiling.

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