Teddy As A Christ Figure Essay, Research Paper
In “Teddy” by J. D. Salinger, Teddy is illustrated as a Christ figure. Many aspects of his life are similar to those of Jesus?. Salinger created in Teddy a mirror-image of the real Christ.
From a very young age, Teddy displays a profound understanding of the universe and life itself, exhibited by his deep conclusions about everyday life. For example, when he is watching the floating orange peels out of the ship?s porthole, he says “?It?s interesting that I know about them being there. If I hadn?t seen them, then I wouldn?t know they were there, and if I didn?t know they were there, I wouldn?t be able to say that they even exist.?” (171) This is not the revelation of a ten-year old boy, just as Jesus? proverbs seemed improbable when one considered his age and the level of wisdom that he should have had. The only major difference is that supposedly Jesus? great wisdom came from God, whereas Teddy?s sagacity comes from living many previous lives.
Both are very religious. Jesus, obviously, because he is the Son of God, loves the Father, worships him, and spreads his word. Teddy is also very religious, not only in loving God, but also in his belief in the Vedantic theory of reincarnation.
Everything about Teddy disturbed normal people, even, to some extent, his parents. Just as people stared when Jesus walked by (because of the strange aura of aged enlightenment around him), Teddy is met with stares when he walks about the ship. Also, everything that both Jesus and Teddy say is met with some degree of skepticism and disbelief, because it seems so unrealistic.
Both Jesus and Teddy use analogies or parables to get their points across. Jesus used parables to teach his followers lessons and morals. In the story, Teddy uses a sort of analogy to display a lesson he is trying to teach Nicholson. Teddy points to Nicholson?s arm, asking what it is. Nicholson replies that it is an arm. Teddy questions, “How do you know it is? ?You know it?s called an arm, but how do you know it is one? Do you have any proof that it?s an arm?” (190) To try to get Nicholson to think outside of finite dimensions, Teddy uses a simple example that Nicholson is sure to understand, just as Jesus explained complicated religious beliefs to the ignorant peasantry with simple stories and analogies.
Probably the most important parallel between Jesus and Teddy concerns their respective deaths. Both knew exactly when and where their deaths would take place. Neither went to his death in fear of what was to come. Teddy was actually anxious to get to his swimming lesson where he knew his sister would push him into an empty pool. “Nicholson wasn?t able to detain him, he started so quickly to make his way through the aisle.” (197) Teddy knew just as well as Jesus that he would soon be returning to earth. Both were victims of a cruel but na?ve and innocent murderer. Jesus? death wasn?t an accident by any means, but in some respects, neither was Teddy?s. His sister, Booper, pushed him in to be mean, but she certainly did not mean to kill him. Also, both die at a very young age, and although Teddy was only ten when he died, he made as much of a name for himself during his lifetime as Jesus made in the thirty years of his life.
“Teddy” parallels the story of Jesus in many respects. Their personalities, how they lived, how they died are all similar, and it is most probably that Salinger intended to create a Christ figure in Teddy, as an insightful mirror to the real story of Jesus, from the first-person view.