Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction
How we cite our quotes:
I glanced past and behind her, furtively, at the fifth passenger - the tiny elderly man - to see if his insularity was still intact. It was. No one's indifference has ever been such a comfort to me. ("Roof Beam" 2.114)
This is an important line; here our earlier suspicions as to the bride's father's uncle are confirmed. We wonder, though, how much of the "comfort" is just in Buddy's head. That is, does he simply convince himself that the elderly man is a sort of ally or is he actually one?
(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)
Here Salinger explicitly draws our attention to the spiritual undercurrent running through this story. This is our hint to keep looking for other connections to aspects of Zen in the story.
It was a grin that was no less resplendent for the fact that it made no sense whatever. Nor for the fact that his teeth were obviously, beautifully, transcendently false. ("Roof Beam" 2.133)
What odd adjectives to describe false teeth. What is Buddy getting at here?