Zooey sits in the bathtub reading a four-year-old letter from his brother Buddy. We learn that he is an actor and is "surpassingly handsome" (Zooey.2.2).
We find out that, as a child, Zooey and his other siblings participated on the radio show "It's a Wise Child." Zooey was the second best kid, after Seymour. He was analyzed to death as a kid because he was so smart.
The letter tells us that, as a child, Zooey and Franny were educated in religion and philosophy by their two oldest brothers.
After he finishes reading the letter, Zooey starts looking over a script. He is interrupted by his mother.
Zooey teases and harasses his mother. He listens to her worries over Franny.
When Bessie leaves, Zooey begins shaving himself in the mirror, and we learn that he's been fighting a private battle against narcissism since he was a kid.
Bessie comes back in to the bathroom. They end up talking about Franny's boyfriend, Lane. Zooey complains that he's a pretentious and fake, that he doesn't like him at all.
Zooey tells his mother all about Franny's religious books, and that they came from Seymour and Buddy's room. He argues it's their fault he and Franny are such "freaks" (Zooey.5.54).
In response to his mother's question about marriage, Zooey explains that, when you're married, you don't get the window seat in trains anymore.
Before Bessie leaves, Zooey begs her not to call a psychoanalyst for Franny. He reminds her what analysis did for Seymour., (i.e., the older brother who killed himself.)
Zooey comes out of the bathroom and goes to talk to Franny. He's smoking a cigar and mocks Freud by pretending to interpret her dream.
He heads over to the fish tank and resents that his black mollies are dying.
Zooey starts talking to Franny about his two scripts; he sweats heavily in the process.
He tells Franny that the two of them are freaks and that it's Seymour and Buddy's fault (Zooey.5.54). He admits that, yes, he has an ulcer, as the result of being angry at people all the time. He really hates that he ruins everything for everybody in his career.
Zooey listens to Franny talk about college and then turns her own argument against her. He asks if she isn't just trying to hoard up spiritual wealth the way others hoard material wealth or knowledge.
In an interlude from their argument Zooey goes to the window and sees a dog and its master outside. They take such joy in each other that he's prompted to remark on the beauty in the world – he thinks they're such "morons" to miss it all the time (Zooey.6.83).
Zooey recalls that Buddy once said that a man should be able to lie at the bottom of a hill with his throat cut, bleeding to death, and sit up to watch a pretty girl or old woman walk to the top of the hill while balancing a jug on her head. He muses that all the Glass siblings got their religion in a different package.
Then he tells Franny to not make everything so personal. Rather than hate her professor, she should hate what he represents. She shouldn't make blanket statements about entire groups of people. He says that making things personal is what's responsible for his ulcer.
He remembers when Franny got mad at Jesus when she was a little girl. He feels that the person she's praying to isn't Jesus at all, but some amalgamation of people that she likes and is pretending is Jesus. He is still sweating profusely.
When his sister is sobbing too much to hear him anymore, Zooey leaves. He goes into Seymour and Buddy's old room, in which he hasn't set foot for seven years.
First, Zooey reads the beaverboard full of quotes.
Then he sits silently at Seymour's desk for half an hour before reading one of his brother's diary entries.
Afterwards, he sits silently again, and finally calls the Glass phone from Buddy and Seymour's private line. He pretends to be Buddy when his mother answers and asks to talk to Franny.
On the phone with Franny, Zooey pretends to be Buddy and listens as she complains about Zooey. He gives himself away accidentally, and then makes up with his sister.
Then he reminisces about Seymour's story of the "Fat Lady." He tells Franny that everyone is the Fat Lady, and that the Fat Lady is Christ himself.