Study Guide

Mrs. Fedder in Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction

By J.D. Salinger

Mrs. Fedder

Mrs. Fedder's character is a lot like that of the Matron of Honor, and we notice that she raises similar issues. Both the women are forces to be reckoned with. They are opinionated characters who don't hesitate to make known their dislike for Seymour and his many Glass-isms. Both women are caricaturized in a way that villainizes them while at the same time praising Seymour and raising his standards to that of an ideal. Mrs. Fedder simply can't understand, for example, why Seymour would want to be a dead cat. And she especially can't understand why her daughter wants to be with some guy who thinks talking about dead cats is appropriate dinner conversation.

Mrs. Fedder is also important in that her character brings in the issue of Freudian psychoanalysis. As we discuss in Seymour's "Character Analysis," Freudian psychology plays an important role in this story, especially when it comes to deciphering Seymour's love for Muriel. The fact that Mrs. Fedder – a clearly dislikable character – so strongly supports psychoanalysis complicates our interpretation of Seymour's childhood issues.

Lastly, Seymour's view of Mrs. Fedder reminds us of one of the central lessons of this collection (and of Franny and Zooey well). Everyone – even the unlikable characters like Mrs. Fedder or the Matron of Honor – is deserving of love. Seymour even goes one step further in recognizing the strength and value in Mrs. Fedder:

She's an irritating, opinionated woman, a type Buddy can't stand. I don't think he could see her for what she is. A person deprived, for life, of any understanding or taste for the main current of poetry that flows through things, all things. She might as well be dead, and yet she goes on living, stopping off at delicatessens, seeing her analyst, consuming a novel every night, putting on her girdle, plotting for Muriel's health and prosperity. I love her. I find her unimaginably brave. ("Roof Beam" 4.8)