Young adulthood is often a time for maturing spiritually. Franny Glass, the protagonist of J.D Salinger’s novel, Franny and Zooey, began to question her religious beliefs, during this time of spiritual growth. Franny’s quest for religion caused her to become pessimistic, bitter, and emotionally unstable.
Franny held many strong beliefs that caused her to view her surroundings pessimistically. After spending three years contently in college, Franny changed her view of the college experience. She decided that college was ‘one more dopey inane place in the world.’; (Salinger, 146) She failed to see college as a place that allows one to increase his or her knowledge and independence. Similarly, she thought ‘that just because she wanted enlightenment or peace instead of prestige or fame-doesn’t mean that she was not as egotistical and self seeking as everybody else.’;(Salinger, 149) Instead of looking for the positive qualities in others, she made a generalization that all people are egotistical and self-seeking. Additionally, she ‘raved and bitched about the stupidity of her audiences and their unskilled laughter.’;(Salinger, 199) Despite the fact that the audiences were supporting Franny by watching her perform, she insists all audiences are stupid. Franny’s religious quest caused her to view her surroundings pessimistically.
Franny was worried by her questions concerning religion. These questions caused her to be extremely bitter. ‘She picked on professor Fallon;#8230;, Lane;#8230;, and her roommate.’;(Salinger, 145) Although ‘she knew what a bore she was being and that she was depressing people, even hurting their feelings, she just did not stop picking.’; (Salinger, 146) ‘Franny was so sick of pendants and conceited little tearer-downers she felt she could have screamed.’;(Salinger, 17) Despite the fact that Franny’s knowledgeable professors had done nothing wrong to her, she referred to them as conceited tearer-downers. Similarly, Franny felt she was ‘sick of liking people and wished to g-d she would meet somebody she could respect. Franny’s extreme bitterness caused her to feel no respect towards others. As a result of Franny’s problematic religious questions, she viewed her surroundings very bitterly.
During Franny’s young adulthood, she underwent a period of emotional instability. She felt as if she was a patient ‘in a lunatic asylum’; (Salinger, 192), and her brother, Zooey, was ‘another patient’; (Salinger, 192) who attempted to treat her. By comparing herself to a patient in an asylum, Franny acknowledged the fact that she was emotionally unstable. Even though Franny was ‘losing weight like mad and worrying Bessie and Les’;(Salinger, 149), she still refused to eat or seek help. Although Zooey constantly advised Franny that she ‘didn’t have enough sense to eat, when someone brought her food’;, Franny was so overwhelmed with her religious quest that she disregarded her need for food. As a result of Franny’s pessimistic views and bitterness towards others, she became an emotionally unstable young adult.
J.D Salinger clearly illustrated his protagonist, Franny Glass as a pessimistic, bitter and emotionally unstable young adult. Many young adults can easily identify with Franny’s problems concerning her religious beliefs. Yet, not all young adults choose to deal with these problems through pessimism and bitterness. Instead, they deal with their problems through optimism.