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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

Family Theme

Like the many of Salinger's famous short stories, both "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" and "Seymour: an Introduction" are about the fictional Glass family, a set of seven intelligent, highly-educated, and spiritual siblings. In these stories, the insular and alienating nature of the Glass family surfaces yet again (having been discussed first in the short stories "Franny" and "Zooey"). Narrator Buddy Glass struggles with the difficulty of communicating to the reader (a clear outsider) the inner workings of the rather unique inner workings of the Glass family.

Questions About Family

  1. Early in "Raise High the Roof Beam," Buddy worries that the Matron of Honor "might well be in secret possession of a motley number of biographical facts about Seymour," among them Seymour's status as a radio celebrity and the fact that he was a freshman at Columbia University when he was fifteen ("Roof Beam" 2.49). What is it about these "basic facts" that are ultimately so misleading when it comes to Seymour's character, especially when someone who is not in the Glass family knows them?
  2. Why does Buddy lie about his brother to the Matron of Honor when she asks what Seymour did before he went into the army?
  3. What do the Glass family members think about psychoanalysis? What is the author's (Salinger's) point of view, as evidenced in these two stories?
  4. How much of Buddy's identity has to do with Buddy himself, and how much has to do with his relationship to Seymour? Is his character defined independently, or only in relationship to his brother?

Chew on This

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

The Glass family characters alienate the reader.

The characters in the Glass family are endearing and likable to the reader.

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