Study Guide

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction Happiness

By J.D. Salinger


Happiness is explicitly discussed both in "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" and in "Seymour: an Introduction." In the first story, Seymour Glass fails to show up at his wedding and claims that he is "too happy" to get married. Here, happiness is contrasted with Zen-like calm and acceptance. To live a truly spiritual life, Seymour believes he needs to maintain a degree of detachment – something that, it seems, his marriage would disrupt. (This idea of detachment is further explored in Salinger's short story " Teddy," if you're interested.) In "Seymour," narrator Buddy Glass claims to be an ecstatically happy writer, a fact that further complicates his attempt to accurately and completely portray his brother Seymour via the written word.

Questions About Happiness

  1. The night before the wedding, Seymour told Muriel that he was too happy to get married. What does he mean by this?
  2. What does Buddy mean when he says that he is an ecstatically happy writer? He tells us about six separate times, and very vehemently at each. Why is he so adamant?
  3. What is the connection between happiness as discussed in "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" (when Seymour says he is too happy to get married) and in "Seymour: an Introduction" (Buddy insists repeatedly that he is an ecstatically happy narrator)?
  4. Seymour says in his diary that Muriel isn't really happy with him. Is he right? And if so, why does Muriel marry him?

Chew on This

Buddy is lying when he claims to be happy in "Seymour: an Introduction."

Buddy is genuinely, as he claims, ecstatically happy as he narrates "Seymour: an Introduction."