Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction
by J.D. Salinger
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Story.Section.Paragraph)
The Lieutenant rang the elevator bell, and the three stood leadenly watching the indicator dial. No one seemed to have any further use for speech. I stood inn the doorway of the apartment, a few feet away, dimly looking on. ("Roof Beam" 4.66)
Come to think of it, has speech really done anything for this group all day? They've been talking back and forth, but have they really been communicating?
What happened was, she sat down in the middle of our driveway one morning to pet Boo Boo's cat, and Seymour threw a stone at her. He was twelve. That's all there was to it. He threw it at her because she looked so beautiful sitting there in the middle of the driveway with Boo Boo's cat. ("Roof Beam" 5.2)
One interpretation is that this is just another way of communicating for Seymour – much the same way that Charlotte used to stomp on his foot during broadcasts when she really liked anything he was saying.
I feel I have a knowledge, a kind of editorial insight gained from all my failures over the past eleven years to describe him on paper, and this knowledge tells me he cannot be got at with understatement. The contrary, in fact. I've written and histrionically burned at least a dozen stories or sketches about him since 1948 - some of them, and I says it what shouldn't, pretty snappy and readable. But they were not Seymour. Construct an understatement for Seymour and it turns, it matures, into a lie. An artistic lie, maybe, and sometimes, even, a delicious lie, but a lie. ("Seymour" 6.2)
This passage sends us right back to the epigraphs, and particularly to Kierkegaard's discussion of an error as an integral part of the work.