Study Guide

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

By J.D. Salinger

Writing and Literature

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction is narrated by the fictional Buddy Glass, an English professor and professional writer. "Seymour" in particular is about the writing process, and specifically the difficulty of writing about a subject one loves and admires as dearly as Buddy does his brother Seymour. In its discussion of communication in general the book suggests that languages obscures truth, and that communication is necessarily flawed.

Questions About Writing and Literature

  1. At several points Buddy interrupts his own writing to tell you which details or facts he will not be discussing. Find a few examples and think about the effect of these passages on the reader. What is achieved by these interludes?
  2. Who is the real focus of each of these stories, Buddy, or Seymour? How is our attention focused at various times in the story?
  3. How do Buddy's anecdotes in "Seymour: an Introduction" function with regard to narrative structuring? Would you argue that there is a structure to this piece? Or is it in fact, formless?
  4. What do you make of Buddy's use of footnotes in "Seymour: an Introduction"? Is this an example of excessive stylish garnish, or is this the right formatting call?

Chew on This

Salinger defines poetry differently in "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" than he does in "Seymour: an Introduction."

We can only fully understand Salinger's definition of poetry by reading these two short stories together. The ideas, which are introduced in "Room Beam," are completed in "Seymour."