J.D. Salinger wrote the two novellas that are included in Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. Both were previously published in The New Yorker, with the titles “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters” and “Seymour: An Introduction,” respectively. They were republished together in 1963 and quickly became popular, ranking as the third best-selling novel in the US in 1963. Salinger is probably best known for his novel The Catcher in the Rye; he is also credited with helping The New Yorker gain better literary reputation with short stories, as his first story with the Glass family was published by them and he continued to write similar stories for The New Yorker.
The most important members of the Glass family are the seven children of the family. They were all raised in an intelligent and highly educated family, and they also all turned out precocious and spirited (some critics call them pretentious, self indulgent, and alienating). The mixed review that these stories received from critics did not stop their popularity however. As they have become adults in the 1940s and 1950s, they are struggling with World War Two and the alienation they feel because of their privileged background.
Buddy Glass, the second oldest sibling, narrates Raise High, which happens when he is attending, on his Army leave, his brother Seymour’s wedding. However, Seymour, who has PTSD, fails to show up to his own wedding, and Buddy tells of the aftermath, of the gossip, and of the secrets he discovers later. The second story, Seymour: An Introduction, is Buddy’s most sincere attempt to introduce his brother Seymour properly to the readers. Seymour committed suicide in 1948, and Buddy talks about his brother and their lives in a stream of consciousness narrative, as he is having many flashbacks and reminiscing over their past home.