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Themes

Franny and Zooey is the story of, among other things, a brother and sister largely dissatisfied with the world around them. Franny's dissatisfaction is focused around her world – college – while Zooey's is centered around his domain – acting. While their frustrations take different targets, both the siblings' cynicism and judgment of the world around them stems from their education. Well-read in philosophy and religion, the Glass children find the world around them to be petty, materialistic, and small. They cannot be satisfied with the world in which they live because they hold themselves and others to impossibly higher standards of intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. What's a bigger problem for Franny: her anger at people like her professor, or her guilt for being so judgmental?
  2. Franny tells her brother, "We're not bothered by exactly the same things, but by the same kind of things, I think, and for the same reasons" (Zooey.6.70). What issues do Franny and her brother share? Do the same things bother both of them? How do their feelings of judgment and anger differ?
  3. Zooey points out to Franny that she chose to come home to have her breakdown, and that people with real breakdowns don't get to choose where they have them. Yet he claims that he doesn't think Franny is "faking it," so to speak. What does he mean, then, with all his insinuations about Franny's breakdown?

Chew on This

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

Franny and Zooey are unlikable characters.

Franny and Zooey are endearing, lovable characters.

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