De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period
De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period
by J.D. Salinger
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De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period Theme of Art and Culture

Since the title evokes two famous artists, Pablo Picasso and Honoré Daumier, we would be disappointed if this story wasn't about art. Not to worry, the protagonist is an artist, art student, and art teacher. The story can even be looked at as a series of complicated pictures, ranging from funny to disturbing, from surreal, to unreal, and from beautiful to desperate. "De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period" also explores the way art can be a tool for dealing with grief. In this case, the grief has to do with the protagonist's loss of his mother when he is only nineteen years old. The story also looks at how art can be isolating when taken too seriously. Visual art is not the only kind going on here. Jean uses the art of story telling to create solutions to his problems, and the story constantly calls attention to itself as a story. "Blue Period" is a must read for artists of any kind.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. What are the different kinds of art that are produced in the story?
  2. Does Jean sound like he knows what he's talking about when he talks about art?
  3. Is it significant that Picasso is misidentified in the story as a "French painter" (21)?
  4. "Blue Period" offers many paintings and drawings for our reading pleasure. Did you like this, or did you skip over those parts? If you do like the pictures, what is your favorite?
  5. Does the story present pitfalls that Jean might face as an artist? If so, what are they?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Jean uses art as way to escape from his problems and reality.

"De Daumier Smith's Blue Period" argues that art can be used to cope with grief.

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