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For Esmé with Love and Squalor

For Esmé with Love and Squalor


by J.D. Salinger

Letters/Letter writing/Writing in general

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

There's a great concern in this story about writing things down and getting them right – the narrator, as a writer, is interested in communicating events as directly and authentically as he can, as we see in his style of direct reportage and extensive quoting of dialogue. We also see this concern in other characters. Esmé, after all, is saving her dad's letters "for posterity" (74) in order to preserve a part of her beloved father; there's something about saving someone's own words and voice that allows readers to keep them alive in a way. Clay is also very interested in letters, but his are kind of different – instead of being true-to-life, he gets Sergeant X to help him improve his letters to make him look better to his mom and Loretta. This is another interesting use of writing; here, it helps Clay become the war hero he dreams of being, at least in the eyes of the ones he loves.

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