ersial writer, for thesubject matters that he writes.. J.D. Salingers 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 1960s. 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.
Salingers works often use religion in order to portray comfort. In
Salingers 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
Salingers 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. Salingers creates a “Pact of Peace” which stops the
conflict between the Germans and Polish during WWII (Hamilton in Bryfonski
and Senick 143) . The “Pact of Peace” !
was a teaching used by Buddha in the Zen philosophy (Hamilton in Bryfonski
and Senick 143). Salinger uses Zen, in this case, to stop the conflict
between the Polish and Germans(Hamilton in Bryfonski and Senick 143). In
many of Salingers works the conflict, becomes a source for much