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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

Language and Communication Theme

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction is about the inherent difficulty of expressing truth in plain language. Confusion and miscommunication dominate "Roof Beam," and the frustration of communicating through written work is at the heart of "Seymour." Arguably, the only effective communication in the first half of the book is non-verbal. As evidenced by the Zen koan, certain truths can only be understood emotionally or spiritually, not in a way that could be expressed verbally. On top of it all, the alienating force of the peculiar Glass family language acts as an additional barrier for narrator Buddy Glass in communicating to other characters and to the reader.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Why does Buddy explain the story of Charlotte's stitches to the bride's father's uncle?
  2. Buddy's narrative is a type of meta-fiction, or fiction that acknowledges that it is fiction. How does this narrative technique speak to the novel's theme of communication via the written word?
  3. The narrator of "Seymour: an Introduction" is four years older than the narrator of "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters." How has Buddy changed in these four years (from 1955 to 1959)? Is his tone markedly different between the two stories?
  4. Buddy dedicates a great deal of time attempting to describe Seymour. Yet he claims he's not done. What is missing here? What is there left that you still want to know? How or why has Buddy failed in his endeavor?

Chew on This

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

Words are not an effective means of communication in "Raise High the Room Beam, Carpenters" and "Seymour: an Introduction."

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction argues that communication must take place on a spiritual level.

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