Essay on for esme with love and squalor

In his short story, “For Esmé, with Love and Squalor,” J.D. Salinger utilizes the function of secondary characters to expose the correlation between the contrasting ideas of idealism and cynicism. While the characters of Esmé and Charles represent the best traits of humanity.
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Catcher in the Rye , like Huckleberry Finn, is a breakthrough book, and its ability to capture an era should be honoured. But at the heart of Salinger's major work — his fictional history of the Glass family — is not lightness, but the observation of French novelist Albert Camus, who wrote in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus that "there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.

Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy". In Salinger's case the philosophical problem begins with the suicide of Seymour Glass in the short story, A Perfect Day for Bananafish , and then continues through five longer stories published between and , in which three of Seymour's siblings Buddy, Zooey and Franny struggle to come to terms with their eldest brother's death and their own lives.

Salinger 's For Esme - With Love And Squalor Essay

Seymour's suicide is particularly grim. It occurs during his honeymoon in Florida, when after a day at the beach, he lies down in the twin bed next to his sleeping wife and shoots himself with the gun he packed in his luggage. How could Seymour, the most philosophical and gentlest of the Glass children, take his own life?

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This is the grim question on which the Glass family stories are based and for which Salinger provides no easy answers. Salinger then began writing exclusively about the Glass children and their parents, but his stories did not follow family chronology.

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The earliest picture we get of Seymour comes ten years after Franny in the final Glass family tale Hapworth 16, It is as if Salinger realised he was engaged in his most important work once he began to write about the Glasses, but by then it was too late to do anything systematic. The result is that anyone reading Salinger, like Seymour's brothers and sisters, is forced to rethink the Glass family past.


From the fairytale-like story Seymour tells Sybil, a young girl he meets on the beach, about bananafish who eat so many bananas that they cannot get out of the banana hole they have swum into, we can guess that Seymour found himself trapped in a bad marriage from which he could see no escape. When Seymour's brother, the writer Buddy Glass, says that "all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next", we can imagine that Seymour reached a point where he believed that he had run out of holy ground.

But such conclusions are guesses at best.

Salinger does not invite us to do what Holden Caulfield says he wants to do with his favourite writers Isak Dinesen and Ring Lardner — call them up on the phone for a friendly chat. If we want to put Salinger in historical context we need to think of him like Ernest Hemingway — an American writer who was profoundly changed by war.

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In Salinger's case the war was the second world war, and like so many veterans of the that era, Salinger rarely talked about his battle experience. But in her memoir Dream Catcher , Salinger's daughter Margaret remembers her father telling her, "You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose entirely". To give you a better overall experience, we want to provide relevant ads that are more useful to you.

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