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Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction

by J.D. Salinger

Admiration Quotes Page 3

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Quote #7

(Surely the one and only great poet the psychoanalysts have had was Freud himself; he had a little car trouble of his own, no doubt, but who in his right mind could deny that an epic poet was at work?) ("Seymour" 1.2)

Salinger generally appears to be anti-Freud – he mocks psychoanalysis several times in this and other stories, and even suggests that it may be at the root of some of Seymour's problems. For Buddy to express such admiration here is unexpected, as is the way he pays homage – after all, the title of "poet" seems to be the highest honor in Buddy's eyes.

Quote #8

At any rate, his character lends itself to no legitimate sort of narrative compactness that I know of, and I can't conceive of anyone, least of all myself, trying to write him off in one shot or in one fairly simple series of sittings, whether arranged by the month or the year. ("Seymour" 1.4)

We quickly see that "Seymour: an Introduction" isn't just about the story of Seymour. It's also about the process of writing and, in particular, of the Herculean task (to borrow a phrase from Salinger) of capturing the essence of so large a person in between two bookends. Buddy's feelings of admiration render this attempt essentially futile.

Quote #9

I intend very soon now - it's just a matter of days or weeks, I tell myself - to stand aside from about a hundred and fifty of the poems and let the first willing publisher who owns a pressed morning suit and a fairly clean pair of gray gloves bear them away, right off to his shady presses, where they'll very likely be constrained in a two-tone dust jacket. ("Seymour" 1.9)

Although he is explicitly talking about Seymour's book of poems, "constrained" is a powerful verb here that gets at the heart of narrator Buddy's own writing difficulties – constraining his brother in a relatively short amount of space. The tirade that follows – against editors, readers, but most vehemently against critics – may also have much to do with Buddy's reluctance to properly document his brother in a series of published works. How can he defend his brother (as presented in his writing) against the critics who will read Buddy's own work?