Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction
by J.D. Salinger
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction Happiness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Story.Section.Paragraph)
[The Matron of Honor]: "I don't know how much you know about people. But what man in his right mind, the night before he's supposed to get married, keeps his fiancée up all night blabbing to her all about how he's too nappy to get married and that she'll have to post pone the wedding till he feels steadier or he won't be able to come to it? Then, when his fiancée explains to him like a child that everything's been arranged and planned out for months, […] then, after she explains all that, he says to her he's terribly sorry but he can't get married till he feels less happy or some crazy thing!" ("Roof Beam" 2.99)
Seymour does seem to be bothered by an excess of emotion. Later, when we are allowed to see some of the entries in his diary, it becomes clear that most of his social interactions are characterized by his typical detachment.
(It isn't easy, to this day, to account for the Matron of Honor's having included me in her invitation to quit the ship. It may simply have been inspired by a born leader's natural sense of orderliness. She may have had some sort of remote but compulsive urge to make her landing party complete.... My singularly immediate acceptance of the invitation strikes me as much more easily explainable. I prefer to think it was a basically religious impulse. In certain Zen monasteries, it's a cardinal rule, if not the only serious enforced discipline, that when one monk calls out 'Hi!' to another monk, the latter must call back 'Hi!' without thinking.) ("Roof Beam" 2.131)
It looks like Buddy isn't making decisions with the sort of logic we're accustomed to. He doesn't address the question of whether he actually wants to stay with the wedding guests for the afternoon; he's not thinking at all about what he wants to do. He seems driven – at least this comparison would suggest – by a cryptic sense of duty.
I said that from the time Seymour was ten years old, every summa-cum-laude Thinker and intellectual men's room attendant in the country had been having a go at him. I said it might be different if Seymour had just been some nasty little high-I.Q. showoff. I said he hadn't ever been an exhibitionist. He went down to the broadcast every Wednesday night as though he were going to his own funeral. He didn't even talk to you, for God's sake, the whole way down on the bus or subway. I said that not one God-damn person, of all the patronizing, fourth-rate critics and column writers, had ever seen him for what he really was. ("Roof Beam" 3.15)
Seymour was never happy with his own intelligence or skills or advancements. We learn through these stories that it's much harder for him to be happy than it may be for someone like Muriel or the other members of her family.