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For Esmé with Love and Squalor

For Esmé with Love and Squalor

by J.D. Salinger

Literature and Writing Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Nobody's aiming to please, here. More really to edify, to instruct. (2)

This is kind of the purpose of literature in this story – in essence, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The narrator implies that it is more important to "edify," to enlighten, rather than to make up a nice story.

Quote #2

I'd packed all my belongings into my barrack bag, including a canvas gas-mask container full of books I'd brought over from the Other Side. (The gas mask itself I'd slipped through a porthole of the Mauretania some weeks earlier, fully aware that if the enemy ever did use gas, I'd never get the damn thing on in time). (4)

This quote reveals a lot about the narrator – to him, books are more important than a theoretically life-saving device like a gas mask.

Quote #3

"May I inquire how you were employed before entering the Army?" Esmé asked me.

I said I hadn't been employed at all, that I'd only been out of college a year but that I like to think of myself as a professional short-story writer. (70-71)

Though the narrator goes on to admit (kind of) that he's unpublished as of yet, we see that writing is a kind of state of mind – in order to become a writer, one has to envision oneself a writer first.