Franny and Zooey takes a look at typical American culture in the 1950s through the eyes of those who strongly oppose it. From their vantage point of self-imposed social isolation, siblings Franny and Zooey Glass criticize the egotism, materialism, and shallowness of American culture. Popularized ideas such as Freud's theories of psychotherapy are criticized. The typical American college coed is practically villainized. Commercialism is mocked, and even American education is ridiculed. The novel also takes a look at celebrity – more specifically, child celebrities – and calls into question its possibly detrimental effects.
Questions About Visions of America
One of the things Franny dislikes about the people she meets in college in their pretension or phony cleverness. Buddy says in his letter to Zooey that Seymour called cleverness Buddy's permanent affliction, his wooden leg. Is this cleverness of Buddy's apparent in his narrative technique? Is it, in fact, a wooden leg for him? Does it make him more like the typical American college people whom Franny despises?
What sort of portrait do the Glass family children paint of child celebrities? How did their participation on "It's a Wise Child" affect them and shape who they are as adults?
In light of Franny's discussion of wisdom and knowledge, what do you make of the name of the commercial radio show "It's a WISE child"?
Chew on This
Franny and Zooey negatively portrays American culture.
Franny and Zooey at first seems to condemn American culture, but in its conclusion portrays it positively.