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Franny and Zooey

Franny and Zooey


by J.D. Salinger

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Rebirth

"Franny" does not fit any of the Booker plots, since it lacks the trademark paired stages of "improvement" and "worsening" that characterize basically all of Booker's descriptions. However, we can apply the formula to "Zooey," which fits the Rebirth plot. Note, however, that the Booker plots are intended to revolve around the story's protagonist. Zooey is the most likely protagonist of "Zooey," but the Booker plot that fits focuses on Franny's transformation. This is a long-winded way of saying that perhaps Booker plots may not be the most helpful way of analyzing these two stories.

"Zooey": Falling Stage

Franny comes home to have her breakdown.

Booker writes that in this stage, the hero lies under the shadow of something "dark" that may "spring entirely from within the hero's own personality." That fits the bill here with Franny; her torment seems to be self-inflicted.

"Zooey": Recession Stage

Not present in "Zooey."

This is the stage where the dark power seems to recede a bit; this doesn't happen here. Franny remains in crisis-mode.

"Zooey": Imprisonment Stage

Zooey and Bessie discuss the severity of Franny's illness.

Zooey makes it clear that this is no passing matter; he, too, still feels the after-effects of the education the two of them received from their older brothers at a young age. It sounds like Franny will be dealing with this issue for quite some time. He also vetoes what seems to be a potential fix: psychotherapy.

"Zooey": Nightmare Stage

Zooey talks with his sister, and she gets worse.

Far from helping Franny, Zooey seems to really send her over the edge. It looks like he's trying for tough love, but it would seem that this tactic backfires.

"Zooey": Rebirth Stage

Franny talks with "Buddy" over the phone.

Franny is essentially "saved" through this phone conversation, though exactly who does the saving (Zooey? Buddy? Seymour?) is subject to debate.

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