Study Guide

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

By J.D. Salinger


For a word that gets so little explicit attention, love dominates the thematic undercurrent of Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction. Narrator Buddy Glass is motivated to tell both stories by his love and admiration for his brother, Seymour. At the same time, love is one of the reasons he can never accurately portray Seymour on the written page. "Seymour" deals explicitly with the consequences of such love for the artist at work. The book also deals with the ability of the detached, spiritual man (Seymour, the god-knower, as Buddy puts it) to love others. In "Roof Beam," Seymour's love for his fiancée is examined. In "Seymour," the idea of religious love – Christ's love for every human being – rises to the forefront.

Questions About Love

  1. How much of Muriel's love for Seymour is based on the idea she has of him as a radio star?
  2. Does Seymour actually love Muriel? Does he seem like he's capable of loving anyone outside of the Glass family? With his detachment, does he seem capable of loving anyone at all?
  3. How would you characterize Buddy's feelings toward his brother, Seymour? What specific lines in the stories lead you to make this characterization?
  4. Buddy explains that Seymour threw the stone at Charlotte simply because "she looked so beautiful sitting there in the middle of the driveway" ("Roof Beam" 5.2). What does he mean? Can you explain, in plain words, why Seymour threw the stone?

Chew on This

Muriel and Seymour's love for each other is based on mutual self-delusion.

Muriel and Seymour's love for each other is genuine.