FRANNY AND ZOOEY
by J. D. Salinger A Bantam Book Copyright 1955, 1957, 1961, by J. D. Salinger ISBN 0-553-20348-7
THOUGH brilliantly sunny, Saturday morning was overcoat weather again, not justtopcoat weather, as it had been all week and as everyone had hoped it would stay for the bigweekend— the weekend of the Yale game. Of the twenty-some young men who were waiting at thestation for their dates to arrive on the ten-fifty-two, no more than six or sevenwere out on the cold, open platform. The rest were standing around in hatless,smoky little groups of twos and threes and fours inside the heated waiting room, talking invoices that, almost without exception, sounded collegiately dogmatic, as though each youngman, in his strident, conversational turn, was clearing up, once and for all, some highlycontroversial issue, one that the outside, non-matriculating world had been bungling,provocatively or not, for centuries.
Lane Coutell, in a Burberry raincoat that apparently had a wool liner buttoned into it, wasone of the six or seven boys out on the open platform. Or, rather, he was andhe wasn't one of them. For ten minutes or more, he had deliberately been standing just out ofconversation range of the other boys, his back against the free Christian Science literaturerack, his ungloved hands in his coat pockets. He was wearing a maroon cashmere muffler whichhad hiked up on his neck, giving him next to no protection against the cold.Abruptly, and rather absently, he took his right hand out of his coat pocket and started toadjust the muffler, but before it was adjusted, he changed his mind and used thesame hand to reach inside his coat and take out a letter from the inside pocket of his jacket.He began to read it immediately, with his mouth not quite closed.
The letter was written—typewritten—on pale-blue notepaper. It had a handled, unfreshlook, as if it had been taken out of its envelope and read several times before:
Tuesday I think
I have no idea if you will be able to decipher this as the noise in the dormis absolutely incredible tonight and I can hardly hear myself think. So if I spellanything wrong kindly have the kindness to overlook it. Incidentally I've taken youradvice and resorted to the dictionary a lot lately, so if it cramps my style your to blame.Anyway I just got your beautiful letter and I love you to pieces, distraction, etc., and canhardly wait for the weekend. It's too bad about not being able to get ,me in Croft House, but Idon't actually care where I stay as long as it's warm and no bugs and I see you occasionally,i.e. every single minute. I've been going i.e. crazy lately. I absolutely adoreyour letter, especially the part about Eliot. I think I'm beginning to look downon all poets except Sappho. I've been reading her like mad, and no vulgar remarks, please. Imay even do my term thing on her if I decide to go out for honors and if I can get the moronthey assigned me as an advisor to let me. "Delicate Adonis is dying, Cytherea, what shall we
She keeps marvellous? do? Beat your breasts, maidens, and rend your tunics." Isn't that
that, too. Do you love me? You didn't say once in your horrible letter. I hate youdoing
when your being hopelessly super-male and retiscent (sp.?). Not really you buthate
am constitutionally against strong, silent men. Not that you aren't strong but you know what Imean. It's getting so noisy in here I can hardly hear myself think. Anyway I love you and wantto get this off special delivery so you can get it in plenty of time if I canfind a stamp in this madhouse. I love you I love you I love you. Do you actually know I'veonly danced with you twice in eleven months? Not counting that time at the Vanguard whenyou were so tight. I'll probably be hopelessly selfconscious. Incidentally I'll killyou if there's a receiving line at this thing. Till Saturday, my flower!!
All my love,
P.S. Daddy got his X-rays back from the hospital and we're all so relieved. Itsa growth but it isn't malignant. I spoke to Mother on the phone last night. Incidentally shesent her regards to you, so you can relax about that Friday night. I don't even think they
heard us come in.
P.P.S. I sound so unintelligent and dimwitted when I write to you. Why? I give you mypermission to analyze it. Let's just try to have a marvelous time this weekend. I mean not tryto analyze everything to death for once, if possible, especially me. I love you. FRANCES (hermark)
Lane was about halfway through this particular reading of the letter when he wasinterrupted —intruded upon, trespassed upon—by a burly-set young man named RaySorenson, who wanted to know if Lane knew what this bastard Rilke was all about. Lane andSorenson were both in Modern European Literature 251 (open to seniors and graduatestudents only) and had been assigned the Fourth of Rilke's "Duino Elegies" for Monday. Lane,who knew Sorenson only slightly but had a vague, categorical aversion to his face and manner,put away his letter and said that he didn't know but that he thought he'd understood most ofit. "You're lucky," Sorenson said. "You're a fortunate man." His voice carried with a minimumof vitality, as though he had come over to speak to Lane out of boredom or restiveness, not forany sort of human discourse. "Christ, it's cold," he said, and took a pack of cigarettes out ofhis pocket. Lane noticed a faded but distracting enough lipstick streak on the lapel ofSorenson's camel's-hair coat. It looked as though it had been there for weeks, maybemonths, but he didn't know Sorenson well enough to mention it, nor, for that matter,did he give a damn. Besides, the train was arriving. Both boys turned a sort of half left to
face the incoming engine. Almost at the same time, the door to the waiting room banged open,and the boys who had been keeping themselves warm began to come out to meet the train, mostof them giving the impression of having at least three lighted cigarettes in each hand.
Lane himself lit a cigarette as the train pulled in. Then, like so many people,who, perhaps, ought to be issued only a very probational pass to meet trains, he tried to emptyhis face of all expression that might quite simply, perhaps even beautifully, reveal how hefelt about the arriving person.
Franny was among the first of the girls to get off the train, from a car atthe far, northern end of the platform. Lane spotted her immediately, and despite whatever itwas he was trying to do with his face, his arm that shot up into the air was the whole truth.Franny saw it, and him, and waved extravagantly back. She was wearing ashearedraccoon coat, and Lane, walking toward her quickly but with a slow face,reasoned to himself, with suppressed excitement, that he was the only one on the platform who
knew Franny's coat. He remembered that once, in a borrowed car, after kissing Frannyreally
for a half hour or so, he had kissed her coat lapel, as though it were aperfectly desirable, organic extension of the person herself.
"Lane!" Franny greeted him pleasurably—and she was not one for emptying her face ofexpression. She threw her arms around him and kissed him. It was a station-platformkiss—spontaneous enough to begin with, but rather inhibited in the follow-through, and withsomewhat of a forehead-bumping aspect. "Did you get my letter?" she asked, andadded, almost in the same breath, "You look almost frozen, you poor man. Whydidn't you wait inside? Did you get my letter?"
"Which letter?" Lane said, picking up her suitcase. It was navy blue with whiteleather binding, like half a dozen other suitcases that had just been carried off the train.
"You didn't get it? I mailed it Wednesday. Oh, God! I even took it down to
"Oh, that one. Yes. This all the bags you brought? What's the book?" Franny looked down at herleft hand. She had a small pea-green clothbound book in it. "This? Oh, just something,"she said. She opened her handbag and stuffed the book into it, and followed Lane downthe long platform toward the taxi stand. She put her arm through his, and did most of thetalking, if not all of it. There was something, first, about a dress in her bag that had to beironed. She said she'd bought a really darling little iron that looked like it went with a dollhouse, but had forgotten to bring it. She said she didn't think she'd known more than threegirls on the train—Martha Farrar, Tippie Tibbett, and Eleanor somebody, whom she'd met yearsago, in her boarding-school days, at Exeter or someplace. Everybody else on the train, Frannysaid, looked very Smith, except for two absolutely Vassar types and one absolutely
Bennington or Sarah Lawrence type. The Ben-nington-Sarah Lawrence type looked likeshe'd spent the whole train ride in the John, sculpting or painting or something,or as though she had a leotard on under her dress. Lane, walking rather too fast, saidhe was sorry he hadn't been able to get her into Croft House—that was hopeless, of course—butthat he'd got her into this very nice, cozy place. Small, but clean and all that. She'd likeit, he said, and Franny immediately had a vision of a white clapboard rooming house.Three girls who didn't know each other in one room. Whoever got there first would getthe lumpy day bed to herself, and the other two would share a double bed with anabsolutely fantastic mattress. "Lovely," she said with enthusiasm. Sometimes it washell to conceal her impatience over the male of the species' general ineptness, andLane's in particular. It reminded her of a rainy night in New York, just aftertheatre, when Lane, with a suspicious excess of curb-side charity, had let thatreally horrible man in the dinner jacket take that taxi away from him. She hadn'tespecially minded that—that is, God, it would be awful to have to be a man and have to
get taxis in the rain—but she remembered Lane's really horrible, hostile look at her as hereported back to the curb. Now, feeling oddly guilty as she thought about that and otherthings, she gave Lane's arm a special little pressure of simulated affection. The two of them
got into a cab. The navy-blue bag with the white leather binding went up frontwith the driver.
"We'll drop your bag and stuff where you're staying—just chuck them in the door—
and then we'll go get some lunch," Lane said. "I'm starved." He leaned forward and gave anaddress to the driver.
missed you." The words"Oh, it's lovely to see you!" Franny said as the cab moved off. "I've
were no sooner out than she realized that she didn't mean them at all. Again with guilt, shetook Lane's hand and tightly, warmly laced fingers with him.
ABOUT an hour later, the two were sitting at a comparatively isolated table in arestaurant called Sickler's, downtown, a highly favored place among, chiefly, theintellectual fringe of students at the college—the same students, more or less, who, had theybeen Yale or Harvard men, might rather too casually have steered their dates away from Mory'sor Cronin's. Sickler's, it might be said, was the only restaurant in town where the steaksweren't thick"— thumb and index finger held an inch apart. Sickler's was Snails."that
Sickler's was where a student and his date either both ordered salad or, usually,neither of them did, because of the garlic seasoning. Franny and Lane were both havingMartinis. When the drinks had first been served to them, ten or fifteen minutes earlier, Lanehad sampled his, then sat back and briefly looked around the room with an almostpalpable sense of well-being at finding himself (he must have been sure no onecould dispute) in the right place with an unimpeachably right-looking girl—a girlwho was not only extraordinarily pretty but, so much the better, not toocategorically cashmere sweater and flannel skirt. Franny had seen this momentary littleexposure, and had taken it in for what it was, neither more nor less. But by someold, standing arrangement with her psyche, she elected to feel guilty for having seen it,caught it, and sentenced herself to listen to Lane's ensuing conversation with aspecial semblance of absorption.
Lane was speaking now as someone does who has been monopolizing conversation for a goodquarter of an hour or so and who believes he has just hit a stride where hisvoice can do absolutely no wrong. "I mean, to put it crudely," he was saying, "the thing youcould say he lacks is testicularity. Know what I mean?" He was slouched rhetorically forward,toward Franny, his receptive audience, a supporting forearm on either side of his Martini.
"Lacks what?" Franny said. She had had to clear her throat before speaking, ithad been so long since she had said anything at all.
Lane hesitated. "Masculinity," he said.
"I heard you the first time."
"Anyway, that was the motif of the thing, so to speak—what I was trying to bring out in afairly subtle way," Lane said, very closely following the trend of his ownconversation. "I mean, God. 1 honestly thought it was going to go over like agoddam lead balloon, and when I got it back with this goddam 'A' on it in
letters about six feet high, I swear I nearly keeled over."
Franny again cleared her throat. Apparently her self-imposed sentence of unadulteratedgood-listenership had been fully served. "Why?" she asked. Lane looked faintly interrupted."Why what?"
"Why'd you think it was going to go over like a lead balloon?"
"I just told you. I just got through saying. This guy Brughman is a big Flaubert man. Or atleast I thought he was."
"Oh," Franny said. She smiled. She sipped her Martini. "This is marvellous," shesaid, looking at the glass. "I'm so glad it's not about twenty to one. I hate it when they're
absolutely all gin."
Lane nodded. "Anyway, I think I've got the goddam paper in my room. If we get a chance over theweekend, I'll read it to you."
"Marvellous. I'd love to hear it."
Lane nodded again. "I mean I didn't say anything too goddam world-shaking oranything like that." He shifted his position in the chair. "But—I don't know—I think the
why he was so neurotically attracted to the mot juste wasn't too bad. Iemphasis I put on
mean in the light of what we know today. Not just psychoanalysis and all that crap, butcertainly to a certain extent. You know what I mean. I'm no Freudian man oranything like that, but certain things you can't just pass over as capital-F Freudian and letthem go at that. I mean to a certain extent I think I was perfectly justified to point out thatnone of the really good boys—Tolstoy, Dostoevski, Shakespeare, for Chrissake—were
such goddam word-squeezers. They just wrote. Know what I mean?" Lane looked at
Franny somewhat expectantly. She seemed to him to have been listening with extra-special intentness.
"You going to eat your olive, or what?"
Lane gave his Martini glass a brief glance, then looked back at Franny. "No," he said coldly."You want it?"
"If you don't," Franny said. She knew from Lane's expression that she had asked the wrongquestion. What was worse, she suddenly didn't want the olive at all and wondered why she hadeven asked for it. There was nothing to do, though, when Lane extended his Martini glass toher but to accept the olive and consume it with apparent relish. She then took a cigarette fromLane's pack on the table, and he lit it for her and one for himself. After the interruptionof the olive, a short silence came over the table. When Lane broke it, it wasbecause he was not one to keep a punch line to himself for any length of time. "This guyBrughman thinks I ought to publish the goddam paper somewhere," he said abruptly. "Idon't know, though." Then, as though he had suddenly become exhausted — or, rather,depleted by the demands made on him by a world greedy for the fruit of his intellect—he beganto massage the side of his face with the flat of his hand, removing, with unconsciouscrassness, a bit of sleep from one eye. "I mean critical essays on Flaubert and those boysare a goddam dime a dozen." He reflected, looking a trifle morose. "As a matter offact, I don't think there've been any really incisive jobs done on him in the last—"
"You're talking like a section man. But exactly."
"I beg your pardon?" Lane said with measured quietness.
"You're talking exactly like a section man. I'm sorry, but you are. You really are."
"I am? How does a section man talk, may I ask?"
Franny saw that he was irritated, and to what extent, but, for the moment, with equal parts ofself-disapproval and malice, she felt like speaking her mind. "Well, I don't know what theyare around here, but where I come from, a section man's a person that takes overa class when the professor isn't there or is busy having a nervous breakdown or is at thedentist or something. He's usually a graduate student or something. Anyway, if it's a course inRussian Literature, say, he comes in, in his little button-down-collar shirt and stripedtie, and starts knocking Tur-genev for about a half hour. Then, when he's finished, when he'scompletely ruined Turgenev for you, he starts talking about Stendhal or somebody hewrote his thesis for his M.A. on. Where I go, the English Department has about ten littlesection men running around ruining things for people, and they're all so brilliantthey can hardly open their mouths—pardon the contradiction. I mean if you get into an argumentwith them, all they do is get this terribly benign expression on their—"
"You've got a goddam bug today—you know that? What the hell's the matter with youanyway?"
Franny quickly tipped her cigarette ash, then brought the ashtray an inch closer to her side of
destructive all week. It'sthe table. "I'm sorry. I'm awful," she said. "I've just felt so
awful, I'm horrible."
"Your letter didn't sound so goddam destructive."
Franny nodded solemnly. She was looking at a little warm blotch of sunshine, about the size ofa poker chip, on the tablecloth. "I had to strain to write it," she said. Lane started to saysomething to that, but the waiter was suddenly there to take away the empty Martini glasses."You want another one?" Lane asked Franny. He didn't get an answer. Franny was staringat the little blotch of sunshine with a special intensity, as if she were consideringlying down in it.
"Franny," Lane said patiently, for the waiter's benefit. "Would you like anotherMartini, or what?"
She looked up. "I'm sorry." She looked at the removed, empty glasses in the waiter's hand. "No.Yes. I don't know."
Lane gave a laugh, looking at the waiter. "Which is it?" he said.
"Yes, please." She looked more alert.
The waiter left. Lane watched him leave the room, then looked back at Franny. She was shapingher cigarette ash on the side of the fresh ashtray the waiter had brought, her mouth not quiteclosed. Lane watched her for a moment with mounting irritation. Quite probably, he resentedand 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 wholeweekend. He suddenly leaned forward, putting his arms on the table, as though to get this thingironed out, by God, but Franny spoke up before he did.
"I'm lousy today," she said. "I'm just way off today." She found herself looking at Lane as ifhe were a stranger, or a poster advertising a brand of linoleum, across the aisleof a subway car. Again she felt the trickle of disloyalty and guilt, which seemedto be the order of the day, and reacted to it by reaching over to cover Lane's hand withher own. She withdrew her hand almost immediately and used it to pick her cigaretteout of the ashtray. "I'll snap out of this in a minute," she said. "I absolutely promise."She smiled at Lane—in a sense, genuinely —and at that moment a smile in return might at leasthave mitigated to some small extent certain events that were to follow, but Lanewas busy affecting a brand of detachment of his own, and chose not to smile back. Frannydragged on her cigarette. "If it weren't so late and everything," she said, "and if I hadn'tdecided like a fool to go out for honors, I think I'd drop English. I don't know."
She tipped her ashes. "I'm just so sick of pedants and conceited little tearer-downers I could scream." She looked at Lane. "I'm sorry. I'll stop. I give you my word. . .. It's just that if I'd had any guts at all, I wouldn't have gone back to college at all thisyear. I don't know. I mean it's all the most incredible farce."
"Brilliant. That's really brilliant."
Franny took the sarcasm as her due. "I'm sorry," she said.
"Stop saying you're sorry—do you mind? I don't suppose it's occurred to you thatyou're making one helluva sweeping generalization. If all English Department peoplewere such great little tearer-downers, it would be an altogether different—" Frannyinterrupted him, but almost inau-dibly. She was looking over his charcoal flannelshoulder at some abstraction across the dining room.
"What?" Lane asked.
"I said I know. You're right. I'm just off, that's all. Don't pay any attention to me." ButLane couldn't let a controversy drop until it had been resolved in his favor. "Imean, hell," he said. "There are incompetent people in all walks of life. I meanthat's basic. Let's drop the goddam section men for a minute." He looked atFranny. "You listening to me, or what?"
"You've got two of the best men in the country in your goddam English Department. Man-lius.
At least, they're poets, for Chrissake." here. Esposito. God, I wish we had them
"They're not," Franny said. "That's partly what's so awful. I mean they're not real poets. They're just people that write poems that get published and anthologized all overthe place, but they're not poets." She stopped, self-consciously, and put out her cigarette.For several minutes now, she had seemed to be losing color in her face. Suddenly, even herlipstick seemed a shade or two lighter, as though she had just blotted it with a leaf ofKleenex. "Let's not talk about it," she said, almost listlessly, squashing her cigarette stubin the ashtray. "I'm way off. I'll just ruin the whole weekend. Maybe there's atrapdoor under my chair, and I'll just disappear."
The waiter came forward very briefly, and left a second Martini in front of each of them.
Lane put his fingers—which were slender and long, and usually not far out ofsight—around the stem of his glass. "You're not ruining anything," he said quietly. "I'm
just interested in finding out what the hell goes. I mean do you have to be agoddam bohemian type, or dead, for Chrissake, to be a real poet? What do you
want—some bastard with wavy hair?"
"No. Can't we let it go? Please. I'm feeling absolutely lousy, and I'm getting aterrible—"
"I'd be very happy to drop the whole subject —I'd be delighted. Just tell mefirst what a real poet is, if you don't mind. I'd appreciate it. I really would." There wasa faint glisten of perspiration high on Franny's forehead. It might only have meantthat the room was too warm, or that her stomach was upset, or that the Martiniswere too potent; in any case, Lane didn't seem to notice it.
"I don't know what a real poet is. I wish you'd stop it, Lane. I'm serious. I'm feeling
very peculiar and funny, and I can't—"
"All right, all right—O.K. Relax," Lane said. "I was only trying—"
"I know this much, is all," Franny said. "If you're a poet, you do something beautiful. I meanyou're supposed to leave something beautiful after you get off the page and
everything. The ones you're talking about don't leave a single, solitary thing beautiful. Allthat maybe the slightly better ones do is sort of get inside your head and leave something
there, but just because they do, just because they know how to leave something, it
doesn't have to be a poem, for heaven's sake. It may just be some kind of
terribly fascinating, syntaxy droppings —excuse the expression. Like Manlius and Esposito
and all those poor men."
Lane took time to light a cigarette for himself before he said anything. Then: "Ithought you liked Manlius. As a matter of fact, about a month ago, if I remembercorrectly, you said he was darling, and that you—"
"I do like him. I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I couldrespect. . . . Would you excuse me for just a minute?" Franny was suddenly on her feet, withher handbag in her hand. She was very pale.
Lane got up, pushing back his chair, his mouth somewhat open. "What's the matter?" he asked."You feel all right? Anything wrong, or what?"
"I'll be back in just a second."
She left the room without asking directions, as though she knew from former lunches at Sick-ler's just where to go.
Lane, alone at the table, sat smoking and taking conservative drinks from his Martini to makeit last till Franny got back. It was very clear that the sense of well-being he had felt, ahalf hour earlier, at being in the right place with the right, or right-looking, girl was nowtotally gone. He looked over at the sheared-rac-coon coat, which lay somewhat askew
over the back of Franny's vacant chair—the same coat that had excited him at the station, byvirtue of his singular familiarity with it—and he examined it now with all but unqualifieddisaffection. The wrinkles in the silk lining seemed, for some reason, to annoy him.He stopped looking at it and began to stare at the stem of his Martini glass, looking worriedand vaguely, unfairly conspired against. One thing was sure. The weekend was certainlygetting off to a goddam peculiar start. At that moment, though, he chanced to look up fromthe table and see someone he knew across the room—a classmate, with a date. Lane satup a bit in his chair and adjusted his expression from that of all-round apprehension anddiscontent to that of a man whose date has merely gone to the John, leaving him, as datesdo, with nothing to do in the meantime but smoke and look bored, preferablyattractively bored.
THE ladies' room at Sickler's was almost as large as the dining room proper, and,in a special sense, appeared to be hardly less commodious. It was unattended and apparentlyunoccupied when Franny came in. She stood for a moment —rather as though it were a rendezvouspoint of some kind—in the middle of the tiled floor. Her brow was beaded withperspiration now, her mouth was slackly open, and she was still paler than she had been in thedining room. Abruptly, then, and very quickly, she went into the farthest and most anonymous-looking of the seven or eight enclosures—which, by luck, didn't require a coin forentrance—closed the door behind her, and, with some little difficulty, manipulatedthe bolt to a locked position. Without any apparent regard to the suchness of her environment,she sat down. She brought her knees together very firmly, as if to make herself a smaller, morecompact unit. Then she placed her hands, vertically, over her eyes and pressed the heelshard, as though to paralyze the optic nerve and drown all images into a voidlikeblack. Her extended fingers, though trembling, or because they were trembling, lookedoddly graceful and pretty. She held that tense, almost fetal position for a suspensorymoment—then broke down. She cried for fully five minutes. She cried without tryingto suppress any of the noisier manifestations of grief and confusion, with all the convulsivethroat sounds that a hysterical child makes when the breath is trying to get up through apartly closed epiglottis. And yet, when finally she stopped, she merely stopped, without thepainful, knifelike intakes of breath that usually follow a violent outburst-inburst.When she stopped, it was as though some momentous change of polarity had taken place inside hermind, one that had an immediate, pacifying effect on her body. Her face tear-streaked butquite expressionless, almost vacuous, she picked up her handbag from the floor,opened it, and took out the small pea-green clothbound book. She put it on her lap—onher knees, rather—and looked down at it, gazed down at it, as if that were the best ofall places for a small pea-green clothbound book to be. After a moment, she pickedup the book, raised it chest-high, and pressed it to her—firmly, and quite briefly. Thenshe put it back into the handbag, stood up, and came out of the enclosure. Shewashed her face with cold water, dried it with a towel from an overhead rack, applied freshlipstick, combed her hair, and left the room.
She looked quite stunning as she walked across the dining room to the table, not at all unlikea girl on the qui vive appropriate to a big college weekend. As she came
briskly, smiling, to her chair, Lane slowly got up, a napkin in his left hand.
"God. I'm sorry," Franny said. "Did you think I'd died?"
"I didn't think you'd died," Lane said. He drew her chair for her. "I didn't know what thehell happened." He went around to his own chair. "We don't have any too goddammuch time, you know." He sat down. "You all right? Your eyes are a little bloodshot." He lookedat her more closely. "You O.K., or what?"
Franny lit a cigarette. "I'm marvellous now. I just never felt so fantastically rocky in
my entire life. Did you order?"