Franny and Zooey Zen Analysis Essay Example
Franny and Zooey Zen Analysis Essay Example

Franny and Zooey Zen Analysis Essay Example

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Zen is emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures. Or the togetherness of mind and body. Zen is one of the major themes of the novel Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. The novel starts off with Franny Glass going to meet her boyfriend, Lane. As they are in a restaurant having lunch together, Franny starts to have a breakdown. She says she is so tired with people’s egos, and fakeness. This is the “Jesus Prayer” comes into play. It’s a prayer that you continuously recite to cleanse ones spirit. As Franny feels another breakdown happening, she gets up and starts walking to the ladies room. On her way there, in the middle of the dining area, she faints.

Zooey Glass, Franny’


s brother, begins where Franny part is left off. It’s about a week or two later since Franny’s breakdown and the setting is now in the Glass’s family home in New York City. This is when the mother, Bessie Glass, is introduced. Bessie wants Zooey to talk to Franny. Zooey does what his mom says and has a long and deep discussion with Franny. It starts out as Zooey being hard and yelling and Franny saying she doesn’t know the real reason why she is doing the Jesus Prayer and that she needs to stop being so judgmental on people.

As Zooey realizes he really isn’t getting thru to Franny, he decides to walk out the living room and enter his older brothers Buddy and Seymour’s room. In there, he calls the Glass’s house phone from another line and pretends to be

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the understanding and helpful big brother, Buddy, and asks to speak to Franny. As Franny is talking to “Buddy”, she realizes it’s really Zooey and asks why he is calling. There Zooey decides to have another conversation with Zooey to help her find peace and understanding of the Jesus Prayer, and everything else that’s wrong in her life. And with this second conversation, Franny finally finds peace with her spiritual and personal beliefs on everything.

Zen comes into play in the beginning when Franny is complaining to Lane that the poets leave nothing behind that’s “beautiful”. That the poets force knowledge into her head. But it’s the concept of no-knowledge that Franny does not understand. And because of this, she resorts to the Jesus Prayer. As she recites the Jesus Prayer, Franny thinks she grasps the concept of the prayer. But in reality, she does not. And if one understands the concept of no-knowledge, you know that you cannot just shove information in your head and understand it. No-knowledge is learning something from nothing. Franny does not understand this until the very end of the novel.

Another Zen aspect in the novel is the “Fat Lady”. The Fat Lady is someone who may not be as intelligent or as pretty as others, but a person who deserves love and respect as well. Bessie Glass can be an example of the Fat Lady. Zooey calls her “fat” a couple times throughout the novel. Bessie may not be as smart as her children, or as helpful, but she does deserve her children’s love and respect. Zooey may seem rude to his mother, but when Bessie

asks him to talk to Franny, he does. Why? Because he respects his mother. Franny in the beginning of the novel, she tells Lane that she is tired of meeting people and just liking them, that she prays to God she can just meet someone and respect them. Franny literally takes the meaning of that. This is one reason why she recites the Jesus Prayer.

A big Zen point in the novel is the Jesus Prayer. By Franny doing this, she is making Jesus someone he was not. She is idolizing him, putting him up on a pedestal. But when Zooey and Franny were on the phone discussing it, Franny realized what she was doing. Zooey mentioned to Franny, that Jesus was just an everyday person. He walked with everyday people, he ate with everyone. That he, Jesus Christ himself, was an everyday person. He was not idolized. That the prayer is not meant for you idolize him, but to love him. And repeating the prayer, not only do you love him, but you love everyone who carries a little piece of Jesus within themselves. And with Zooeys help, and the help of the rest of the family, Franny gains wisdom. She learns she needs to be happy with herself and what she does. Also to appreciate and love others around her as well.

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