Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction
How we cite our quotes:
Mrs. Silsburn said nothing, and I didn't look at her to sec just how seriously she'd been affronted by the Matron of Honor's remark. I remember, though, that I was impressed, in a peculiar sense, with the Matron of Honor's tone of apology for her little slip about 'crazy aunts and uncles'. It had been a genuine apology, but not an embarrassed and, still better, not an obsequious one, and for a moment I had a feeling that, for all her stagy indignation and showy grit, there was something bayonetlike about her, something not altogether unadmirable. […] The point is, however, that right then, for the first time, a small wave of prejudice against the missing groom passed over me, a just perceptible little whitecap of censure for his unexplained absenteeism. ("Roof Beam" 2.61)
This is an interesting passage, because it complicates several elements of the story: our understanding of the Matron of Honor's character, our understanding of Buddy, the social tensions in the car, and our classification of characters are either likeable (namely Buddy) or antagonistic (pretty much everybody else).
She gets a vast satisfaction out of telling her friends that she's engaged to the Billy Black who was on "It's a Wise Child" for years. ("Roof Beam" 4.7)
This should make us worry about Muriel's motivations for marrying Seymour, as well as the basis of her love for him. Buddy earlier worried that people misunderstood Seymour, largely on account of his childhood fame. Perhaps Muriel, like Mrs. Fedder and the Matron of Honor, misunderstand Seymour's real nature.
"She's an irritating, opinionated woman, a type Buddy can't stand. I don't think he could see her for what she is. A person deprived, for life, of any understanding or taste for the main current of poetry that flows through things, all things. She might as well be dead, and yet she goes on living, stopping off at delicatessens, seeing her analyst, consuming a novel every night, putting on her girdle, plotting for Muriel's health and prosperity. I love her. I find her unimaginably brave." ("Roof Beam" 4.8)
Again, look at the way Salinger complicates his characters and doesn't allow us to classify them as likeable or antagonistic. Just as Buddy had a moment of admiration for the Matron of Honor in the guest car, so Seymour experiences the same thing for Mrs. Fedder.