Franny and Zooey

Ego, Ego, New Ego: Self-Improvement versus Selfishness in Franny and Zooey College

J.D. Salinger's novel Franny and Zooey features various members of the Glass Family, and, while the two stories were originally published independently, one cannot ignore their combined significance. Seven years after the suicide of their eldest brother Seymour, the two youngest members of the family, Franny and Zooey, continue to struggle with their brother’s death, unable to make sense of his life teachings. Franny and Zooey chronicles Franny, a promising actress-to-be, at her wits end in the pursuit of the spiritual enlightenment her brother described to her as a young child. While most readers believe the text argues for a definition of ego as a negative manifestation of materialism, which parallels Franny’s initial understanding of the word, through Zooey’s redefinition of the term during his confrontation with his mentally unstable sister, it becomes clear Franny’s understanding of ego is misshapen and leading her away from the enlightenment she seeks. This is important because it sheds light on the intermingled importance of one’s duty in life as well as one’s ego and how they are both necessary in the pleasing of higher spiritual powers.

The youngest of the seven Glass children, Franny Glass is struggling to find...

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