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Analysis

Literary Devices in Teddy

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Teddy introduces this concept to Nicholson towards the end of their conversation on the sun deck. When he tries to talk to Nicholson about "getting out of the finite dimensions," Nicholson responds...

Setting

We learn the specific date of the story after a glimpse into Teddy's diary. The most interesting element of the setting is the fact that it takes place on board a cruise ship. We don't know exactly...

Narrator Point of View

If we look only at the text of "Teddy," we have an uninvolved third-person narrator who tells us what's going on and what's being said – not without bias and interpretation, but excluding any...

Genre

The real heart of "Teddy" is the lengthy dialogue between Teddy and Nicholson. So much so, in fact, that the characters seem to exist only to embody certain philosophical ideas. Teddy embodies East...

Tone

We can't doubt for a moment the way the author feels about his main character, the "whole and pure" Teddy who "carrie[s] the impact, however oblique and slow-travelling, of real beauty" (1.4). Even...

Writing Style

Salinger's word-choice is about as far from sloppy as you can get. There's a peculiarity and particularity to each of his phrases that conveys a seeming lifetime's worth of knowledge about characte...

What's Up With the Title?

Teddy is the name of our protagonist, known more formally as Theodore McArdle. As the central character and focus of the story, he's a fitting source for the title. For a discussion of the name "Te...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

We know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping? – A Zen KōanThis is the epigraph to Nine Stories, the 1953 collection that concludes with "Teddy." Together,...

What's Up With the Ending?

Part of what makes "Teddy" so famous is its ending. There are actually a few different ways of interpreting that little girl's scream, though one in particular comes forward as the most popular, cl...

Plot Analysis

Note: In a typical classic plot, the Climax stage comes before the Suspense stage. However, in this short story, they are reversed: Suspense comes before Climax.Meet Teddy, boy genius/prophet/spiri...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: None

Teddy doesn't accurately fit any of the Booker plots. The meat of the story is the philosophical debate between Teddy and Nicholson – not any action that we could break down into different st...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Teddy in the cabin with his parents, his discussion with Booper, and his diary entries. We discover that something important will happen today, but we don't know what it is.Teddy's discussion with...

Trivia

The Soho Weekly News once published the theory that famous postmodernist author Thomas Pynchon, author of Gravity's Rainbow, was in fact the same person as J.D. Salinger. Pynchon wrote in to say th...

Steaminess Rating

There's definitely no sex in "Teddy," but there is the idea of sex. More importantly, there's the idea of avoiding sex, love, or any personal attachment whatsoever, physical or emotional. Teddy tel...

Allusions

St. George and the Dragon (3.1)The Bible, Adam (4.95-99)Matsuo Bashō Basho – Both of the short Japanese poems that Teddy recites for Nicholson are the work of Basho (4.50)
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