Category Archives: J.D. Salinger

Wisdom on campus

Nervously, and without any real need whatever, Franny pushed back her hair with one hand. ‘I don’t think it would have all got me quite so down if just once in a while — just once in a while — there was at least some polite little perfunctory implication that knowledge should lead to wisdom, and that if it doesn’t, it’s just a disgusting waste of time! But there never is! You never even hear any hints dropped on a campus that that wisdom is supposed to be the goal of knowledge. You hardly ever even hear the word “wisdom” mentioned! Do you want to hear something funny? Do you want to hear something really funny? In almost four years of college — and this is the absolute truth — in almost four years of college, the only time I can remember ever even hearing the expression “wise man” being used was in my freshman year, in Political Science! And do you know how it was used? It was used in reference to some nice old poopy elder statesman who’d made a fortune in the stock market and gone to Washington to be an adviser to President Roosevelt. Honestly, now! Four years of college, almost! I’m not saying that happens to everybody, but I just get so upset when I think about it I could die.’

— J.D Salinger, Franny and Zooey

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Yellow teeth

I remember Franny, at about four, sitting on [Seymour’s] lap, facing him, and saying, with immense admiration, ‘Seymour, your teeth are so nice and yellow!’ He literally staggered over to ask if I’d heard what she said.

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I was standing at the meat counter, waiting for some rib lamb chops to be cut. A young mother and her little girl were waiting around, too. The little girl was about four, and, to pass the time, she leaned her back against the glass showcase and stared up at my unshaven face. I told her she was about the prettiest little girl I’d seen all day. Which made sense to her; she nodded. I said I’d bet she had a lot of boyfriends. I got the same nod again. I asked her how many boyfriends she had. She held up two fingers. ‘Two!’ I said, ‘That’s a lot of boyfriends. What are their names, sweetheart?’ Said she, in a piercing voice, ‘Bobby and Dorothy’. I grabbed my lamb chops and ran. But that’s exactly what brought on this letter. That, and a haiku-style poem I found in the hotel room where Seymour shot himself. It was written in pencil on the desk blotter: ‘The little girl on the plane / Who turned her doll’s head around / To look at me’.

— J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey