Franny and Zooey

Books and More Books: Reading in J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey

...books, books. Tall cases lined three walls of the room, filled to and beyond capacity. The overflow had been piled in stacks on the floor. There was little space left for walking, and none whatever for pacing.

-J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

As books spill into the room in this scene from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, the theme of reading spills into most every aspect of the novel. Reading occurs so much, in fact, that there is little room to move within the story without running into the subject. The two main characters, Franny and Zooey Glass, frequently engage in the act of reading. The narrator has pieced together the story by reading the different interpretations provided by the story's characters. But, this novel is not only intrinsically about the act of reading; it also engages the reader in active reading. As readers of this novel, we become active participants in the reading in order to fill in certain gaps, or indeterminacy, left by the author. As such, reader response criticism provides a means for understanding the use of reading in the novel.

According to Stanley Fish, a major feature of reader response criticism is that "reading is not a matter of discovering what the text means, but a process of...

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