Monday, November 20, 2006

Reader's Diary #191- J.D.Salinger: Fran and Zooey (up to p. 105)

The basic moral behind Daniel Keyes' Flowers For Algernon is "ignorance is bliss". The fact that such an adage even exists says that this is not a novel idea (pardon the pun).

While perhaps not quite as cleverly executed as Keyes' book, Franny and Zooey explores this theme as well. Yet while not living up to the Keyes' masterpiece, Salinger does add an extra element; religion.

Only halfway in, I'm a little unsure as to what point he is trying to make but I do have a few theories:

1. Faith in a higher power doesn't assure happiness either (and if this is the point, I'm left thinking that if money, intelligence and religion can't deliver happiness, what can? Oh right, sex.)

2. Faith is the answer to happiness. While completely opposite to my first theory, I don't know how the book is going to turn out. Perhaps this religion-induced depression Franny is going through will turn around.

3. Faith can lead to happiness, if chosen wisely, slowly and personally.

The mystery is one of the appealing qualities of this novel. The characters, too, are holding my attention. Zooey, could be a modern character, as a single 25 year old still living at home. Oddly, the best thing about his character is his cruelty. It's not often you get a protagonist this unlikeable, but the more he berates his mom like an ungrateful (but intellectual) brat, the more involved I become. Obviously his meanness is a symptom of his issues, and he seems to blame his older brothers for creating his smart and bitter persona. It's a page turner to see if he will end up helping his troubled sister Franny, or will instead fall deeper into his own misery-plagued existence.


Anonymous said...

First read Flowers for Algernon in grade 5. Loved it. Reread it two years ago and found it completely overwhelmingly sad. When I finished it for the second time I wondered if maybe I had missed some of the deeper layers in it the first time around. I was almost sorry I had read it the second time. That reading forever changed what I once thought of the book. A fond memory was crushed.

John Mutford said...

Grade 5? Did you read on on your own, or for school? I can completely get behind this book being taught in high school or perhaps even juniour high, but grade 5 seems a bit young. It's not that I think the vocab is unsuitable, but as you said, I think most people that young would miss some of the deeper layers. True it might be book they'd love (I think Charly would hold a lot of appeal for kids), but if they're not understanding the message being sent, bleak or not, what's the point?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Eva's junior high drama group performed Flowers for Algernon when she was in grade 8. They did a spectacular job for such a challenging play. Eva's friend was the lead and he made me cry, he was so convincing.

Ania Vesenny said...

saw your comment on my blog. i did sign up for the writing group, but i haven't made it out yet. :-)

Anonymous said...

It used to be part of the grade 5 curriculum but I know they have since taken it out of grade 5 into a higher grade. Here in BC it's a recommended novel study for grade 9.

By the way the transcendental post will probably be done this weekend but definitely not before. It is coming though.