Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Why do you think Salinger chose to place "Roof Beam" first and "Seymour" second when he paired the two in this collection?
- What are the big differences between the two short stories in this collection? Which story do you enjoy reading more? Why? Which do you think is a better-written short story?
- Buddy tells us at the beginning of "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" that Seymour commits suicide in 1948. Why give this away when we are about to hear a story about Seymour's wedding? How does this information change the way you read the story? Are you any less invested in the outcome of Seymour's no-show given this fatalistic opening?
- Buddy opens "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" with the claim that his story "has a beginning and an end, and a mortality all its own" ("Roof Beam" 1.1). What sort of promises are made in such an introduction? Does Buddy – or Salinger – follow through on our inflated expectations?
- How is the real story behind Seymour's wedding no-show gradually revealed in the course of "Roof Beam"? What are the several different ways in which back-story is revealed, and how do these different methods work together to paint a full narrative picture?
- What purpose is served by the seeming two-dimensional characters stuck in the car with Buddy? What do they do for the story's themes, plot, complexity, or main characters?
- Who is the center of the reader's attention focus, and concern: Buddy, or Seymour? Who steals the show?
- In "Seymour: an Introduction" both Buddy (in his narration) and Seymour (in the letters we get to read) discuss the distinction between their writing styles. Read "Hapworth, 16, 1924" (available here), which takes the form of a letter written by seven-year-old Seymour. Compare his writing style to that of Buddy in "Seymour: an Introduction." Does Salinger effectively create two different styles for his two different characters?
- Buddy notes in "Seymour: an Introduction" that all the Glass family children, professions aside, are, in the family tradition, entertainers of some sort. How is Buddy an entertainer?
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