’s Edge Comparative Essay About Those Two Books Essay, Research Paper
Franny And Zooey & The Razor s Edge
Many novels use religion as the central object of their plot. Franny and Zooey, by J.D Salinger and The Razor s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham both display religion as having they key role in their novels. Religion is the main guide in Franny and Zooey and The Razor s Edge for the search of meaning. During the search for meaning the two main characters Franny Glass and Larry Darrel, use religion as an escape from everyday life and from bad memories. Secondly, these two characters put important factors of their lives on hold, which leads their loved ones to disagree with their search for meaning. Nevertheless, both characters benefit from their religious experiences.
Both Franny Glass of Franny and Zooey and Larry Darrel of The Razor s Edge turn to religion as an escape rout from their everyday lives and disturbing memories. They have become annoyed and dissatisfied with their ordinary lives and the individual values and goals in their everyday lives. While Franny was dining with her boyfriend, Lane, she describes the atmosphere around her and how she feels about the theatre department and how sick she is of everyone close to her.
I m not afraid to compete. It s just the opposite. Don t you see that? I m afraid I will compete that s what scares me. That s why I quit the theatre department. Just because I m so horribly conditioned and people to rave about me, doesn t make it right. I m ashamed of it. I m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I m sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of splash. 1
This also occurs in The Razor s Edge. After Elliot Templeton s death, Larry describes how worthless Elliot s life really was.
An old, kind friend. It made me sad to think how silly, useless, and trivial his life had been. It mattered very little now that he had gone to so many parties and has hobnobbed with all those princes, dukes, and counts. They had forgotten him already. 2
Both of theses examples show how, Franny and Larry do not want to be a part of the stylized like of their societies. Franny was part of a large family in which each sibling was an actor or actress at one point in their lives. Franny was expected to lead a very prestigious life. Attending university in honors program, and becoming a wonderful actress. She wanted to get away; as to what one could, say was her planned life. In addition, Larry did not want to end up like Elliot because Elliot spent his entire life only caring about the stylized life of their societies. Larry did not want to become like Elliot in the sense of materialism, Larry wanted to make something of his life. Both characters, Franny and Larry, realized they needed something to help release them from their invaluable ways of life. Secondly, both characters have gone through many traumatic experiences that led them to have undesirable memories. After Seymour s suicide in 1955, Franny was never the same person. She was feeling the same sort of pressure that Seymour did and she began to have a mental breakdown.
The child s laying there by the hour crying her eyes out it you say boo to her, and mumbling heaven knows what to herself, and your father wonders if maybe she d like a tangerine. 3
Zooey described Franny as a very disturbed and depressed individual, trying to seek a way of life through religion, in which she did not even completely understand herself.
Worse than that, though, I can t see I swear to God I can t how you can pray to a Jesus you don t even understand. And what s really inexcusable, considering that you ve been funnel-fed on just about the same amount of religious philosophy that I have what s really inexcusable is that you don t try to understand him. 4
Secondly, in The Razor s Edge, Maugham s first discussion with Larry was about Larry s explanation as to why he did not want to attend school and do something with his life. Larry explains this by saying:
When I came back from France they all wanted me to go to college. I couldn t. After what I d been through, I felt I couldn t go back to school. I learnt nothing at my prep school anyway. I felt I couldn t enter into a freshman s life. They wouldn t have liked me. I didn t want to act a part I didn t feel. And I didn t think the instructor would teach me the sort of things I wanted to know. 5
In the first two examples, Franny was beginning to realize the effect a prestigious way of life has on a person. She understood that she did not want to end up like her brother Seymour with all the pressure that was upon her, and that she needed to search for another way to live her life. Franny took into consideration the long, boring talks she had with Zooey and was only starting to realize that Zooey was not just bugging her or criticizing the religion she chose to believe in, but he was only trying to help her move on with her life and start over again. In addition, Larry tries to escape from his vivid memory of the death of a close friend in the war. His emotional disturbance leads to his search for meaning and what life is all about, which did not involve going back to school and furthering his education. Larry feels that by losing his friend it has taught him, that one should take life and it is experiences as they come instead of rushing through life trying to do everything all at once. Larry feels that an individual should relax and enjoy life by exploring the world and the religion that is present in everyday life, whether an individual chooses to explore it or ignore it, one should realize that it is there. While using religion as an escape route, Franny and Larry also ended up putting many important factors in their lives on hold.
When Franny and Larry begin their search for meaning, they forget about many different, but very important factors in their lives. Both characters put their academic careers and schooling on hold. Franny, who had the potential to become a wonderful actress, tries to explain to Lane why she would give up something as important as the theatre department Franny explains:
I just quit, that s all, it started embarrassing me. I began to feel like such a nasty little egomaniac. I don t know. It seemed like such a poor taste, sort of, to want to act in the first place. I mean all the ego. 6
Furthermore, in The Razor s Edge, Larry did not go back to school after the war, but he did have a great opportunity to be his best friend Gray Maturin s partner in a successful business operation, which he later rejected. Elliot could not understand why Larry would turn down this kind opportunity. Elliot explains what Larry could have had with these words:
Larry had a chance of getting in on the ground floor, and if he kept his nose to the grindstone he might well be many times a millionaire by the time he was forty. 7
Notice how in both of these examples they each turned down the most valuable career money wise. It is quite oblivious that they did not feel complete with a good paying job. Franny actually used the word embarrassment while describing her job as an actress. Obliviously she felt ashamed of what she was doing with her life, and the people she was associating with. Franny did not want to become an actress because mostly everyone in her family was one and she did not like the pressures that were being placed upon her to be the best. She felt embarrassed and did not like to act, she wanted to live her life how she wanted not how everyone else wanted her too. In addition, Larry puts it quite bluntly that he does not want the career offered by Mr. Maturin and Elliot has a disgusted opinion of him right away for not taking the job. Elliot s shock that a man could reject this sort of offer just exhibits how materialistic the people surrounding Larry s environment are. Both Franny and Larry disagree with the people around them, that wealth brings happiness. Another very important factor that both characters sacrificed was their relationships with their loved ones. While Franny tries to explain the Jesus prayer to Zooey, she becomes so frustrated with his questioning that she ends up insulting her closest and favorite brother.
Oh shut up! Just start, if your going to. All I ask is that you at least try to be a little bit tactful, the way I m feeling right now that s all. You are without a doubt the most tactless person I ve ever known in my life. Your absolutely the most unsympathetic person I ve ever known. You are! 8
Secondly, Larry has a chance of marriage with Isabel who he cares for very much, but his voyage to search for meaning does not appeal to her at all. Isabel does not approve of his search and therefore will not marry him until he is ready to settle down.
But Larry, she interrupted him desperately. Don t you see you re asking something of me that I m not fitted for, that I m not interested in? How often do I have to repeat to you that I m just happy an ordinary normal girl. Larry if you love me you wouldn t make me so unhappy. 9
Franny becomes so frustrated in trying to explain the reasoning behind her prayer that she ends up becoming bitter towards Zooey. The tone that is used while insulting Zooey gives the impression of serious frustration and extreme anger. She describes him as being tactless and unsympathetic, which is very ironic because he is sympathizing with her and trying to get a better understanding so he can not only help her but also improve her way of life. The quote above from the novel Franny and Zooey show Franny s extreme anger towards the people around her, and especially the ones who do not respect her belief in religion. The second example gives many impressions of the desperate feeling that Isabel is feeling. She makes Larry s realities sound like they are only a dream. Isabel blames Larry for her unhappiness and he just replies that this is what he must do with his life. Larry is very patient with Isabel and he does not care if she understands him or not. He has set out a goal for himself to search for the meaning of his life, and he is going to continue to search for meaning no matter what anyone says to him. In one sense, Isabel does not understand or see any real value in any kind of knowledge of oneself. As she stated before, I m just an ordinary girl. 10 She is ordinary and to a certain extreme does not understand the basics of life and what the true meaning that Larry is searching for. The meaning of his life. Larry does not get mad at Isabel when she says that he is just a simple dreamer, he just chooses to walk away from her because he feels that obviously she does not understand what is important to him, and he does not want anyone to get in the way of his search for meaning. The characters put these important factors in their lives on hold, which leads their loved ones to disagree with their search for meaning and in the end they feel a sense of rejection.
Franny and Larry put their search for meaning above everything and everyone in their lives, which leads their loved ones no choice but to disagree with their religion or way of life. People that are close to another individual tend to always look out for that persons well being. These two characters loved ones did not think their search was in their best interests in order to live a fulfilling life. While Zooey is listening to Franny s reasoning for her prayer, he tells her that it frightens him to see her using it. He is in fear for what will become of his sister, since she is so devoted to the Jesus prayer.
There s something about the way your going at this prayer that gives me the willies, if you want to know the truth. You think I m out to stop you from saying it. I don t know whether I m or not that s a goddam debatable point but I would like you to clear up for me just what the hell your motives are for saying it. 11
This point is also proven while Larry is explaining that he wants to spend his entire life searching for answers such as who God is, why evil exists and whether God has an immortal soul. Isabel tries to convince Larry that these questions are not important in life.
It all sounds so adolescent to me. Those are the sort of things sophomores get excited about and when they leave college they forget about them. They have to earn a livin. 12
Zooey begins by letting Franny know that he does not have any positive feelings towards her Jesus prayer. The words it gives me the willies, gives off the idea that Zooey is actually trying to scare her from saying her prayer. In the last sentence of the quotation, Zooey is trying to tell Franny that she had better have a good reason for making it such an enormous part of her like. One can tell that Zooey is trying remarkably hard to make Franny question her belief. In addition, Isabel s words to Larry are very insulting. She uses extreme sarcasm when she compares Larry to a sophomore in college with a dream that will lead nowhere. Isabel tries to make Larry insecure in his reasoning, and to make him feel like a fool. Both Isabel and Zooey care very much for Larry and Franny. It seems that the only way they can think they can change their minds about their religion or way of life is by insulting them to the extreme, putting them down, and making them feel like they are fools. If Zooey and Isabel were not so self center14ed, they may find better means of letting them know how they feel without putting both of them down, and making them feel like fools. Furthermore, since the two main characters put their search above their families and friends, they make their loved ones feel great disappointment and everlasting sadness. At the beginning of the novel when Franny and Lane were dining together, he noticed that she had changed, and he felt very insecure about how there relationship was going.
Lane watched her for a moment with mounting irritation. Quite probably, he resented and feared any signs of detachment in a girl he was seriously dating. In any case, he surely was concerned over the possibility that this bug Franny had might bitch up the whole weekend. 13
In addition, in The Razor s Edge, Isabel explains to the author how much she misses Larry.
No, not exactly unhappy. When Larry isn t there I m alright; it s when I m with him that I feel so weak. Now it s just a sort of ache, like the stiffness you get after a long ride when you haven t been on a horse for months; it s not pain, it s not at all unbearable, but your conscious of it. I shall get over it all right. I hate the idea of Larry making such a mess of his life. 14
In both cases, change played a large role in the disappointment of Isabel and Lane. Lane felt that he had lost his girlfriend, the one he cared for the most because she had changed drastically. Lane believes that she had changed so much because of her new finding, her new religion. Lane did not like the way Franny was becoming and he knew that something must happen, although he did not know what to do, and he was becoming less and less involved with Franny. The example from The Razor s Edge was very sympathetic because of such words as weak and pain. Isabel was trying to make Larry feel sorry for her so that she could have what she wanted in life. Larry chose to ignore Isabel s sympathy and rather thought of himself first and what he must do to satisfy himself. Isabel, Zooey and Lane are all in their own little way are being extremely self-centered and stubborn. They all are not trying to understand what the two, Larry and Franny are searching for. In a sense, their loved ones felt betrayed. No matter what Larry and Franny s loved ones feel, there will always be, a degree of disappointment because one must understand that practicing or studying a religion takes up a continuous amount of precious time. It almost seems as though religion in these two novels has been affecting people in a bad way, religion has not been a positive influence on their lives. Yet Franny and Larry are both extremely happy with their search and in a sense do not care what others think, and they are focusing on themselves rather than everyone else around them.
Both Larry and Franny have benefited greatly from their religious experiences. They both have found true happiness from their search for meaning. They benefited from their religious experiences because they felt a sense of individuality and tranquil. Franny explains to Lane that she wants to feel the result of the Jesus prayer, which would bring her the feeling of tranquil. Larry also feels a sense of peacefulness when he returns from his trip to India, where he practiced Indian mysticism.
So far as I m concerned I can only tell you that the intense sense of peace joy, and assurance that possessed me in that moment of rapture abides with me still and that the vision of the world s beauty is as fresh and vivid now as when first my eyes were dazzled by it. 15
Most definitely feeling peaceful and happiness was a benefit in which both characters derived from their practiced religion. Franny seems to be looking forward to the feeling of peacefulness from her prayer. In addition, when Larry describes his experiences there is a mood of pleasure and happiness. This short quotation makes one feel extremely happy for Larry s feeling of whole and completeness. Both characters eventually find their peacefulness after searching for very long periods, but they definitely feel it is worth the joy it has brought them in the end. Another important aspect in which both characters benefited was a feeling of completeness after their search. After Franny s brother Buddy s phone call, she had discovered what she was searching for and she felt like she was completed once and for all.
Franny took in her breath slightly but continues to hold the phone to her ear. A dial tone of course followed the formal break in the connection. She appeared to find it extraordinarily beautiful to listen to, rather as if it were the best possible substitute for the pumodial silence itself. But she seemed to know, too, when to stop listening to it as if all of what little or much wisdom there is in the world were suddenly hers. 16
In The Razor s Edge, Larry found his completeness at the Ashrama in India on his Birthday.
I was ravished with the beauty of the world. I d never know such exaltation and such a transcendent joy. I had a strange sensation, a tingling that arose in my feet and traveled up to my head, and I felt as though I were suddenly released from my body and as pure spirit partook of a loveliness I had never conceived. I had a sense that a knowledge more than human possessed me, so that everything that had been confused was clear and everything that had perplexed me was explained. I was so happy that it was a pain and I struggled to release myself from it, for I felt that if it lasted a moment longer I should die, and yet it was such rapture that I was ready to die rather than forgo it. 17
In the example of Franny and Zooey, one can see that Franny was once unsure of herself. She was very disturbed and even confused with what was going on in her life. The very last page of the novel was a very interesting one to read. Franny is no longer disturbed or confused about her life, she has now become reassured, complete and most importantly herself. Also, Larry s wonderful experience helped him realize what he was searching for, peace and understanding of the world. Larry at the end of the novel has finally found his own definition of meaning. Both characters have reached their goal, and they now can live their life in peace and to the fullest, because they have found the real meaning to their own lives through experience and most importantly religion.
Franny and Zooey and The Razor s Edge, both used religion as the main guide to search for meaning. The two main characters discover what they were looking for through the use of religion. They had to overcome many obstacles to find what they were looking for. It is never an easy task to find ones meaning of life. Franny and Larry were two very brave people, who gave up the accepted values and goals of their society. Even though it was extremely difficult to find their own definition of meaning, the feelings and emotions they experience were worth it in every way possible. The true meaning can never be defined for it is a very personal meaning and an individual must experience their search for meaning.