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Patricia Highsmith's the Talented Mr Ripley and J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey

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Patricia Highsmith's 'The Talented Mr Ripley' and J.D. Salinger's 'Franny and Zooey' have fundamental similarities regarding their protagonists. I intend on comparing Zooey Glass and Tom Ripley and observe the similarities between them, examining their character flaws both individually and in relation to those around them.

I must begin with highlighting the flaws of both characters in order to compare them. Firstly, Zooey Glass; on the surface, is harsh and short tempered. However, once we have been introduced to Zooey and have become accustomed to his mannerisms and penetrating approach to conversation we begin to identify him as destructive to such a dramatic degree that it is, at times, difficult not to hate him. When examining Salinger's protagonist in hindsight I am fully aware, due to the author's direct acknowledgment of Zooey's traits, how and what he is doing. The story reaches its climax during a conversation between siblings Franny and Zooey and it is here we are witness to Zooey's self-analysis of his character, "I make everybody feel that he doesn't really want to do any good work". Zooey is aware of his destructive tendencies and concludes, "it's wrong". We see his discontent regarding himself and the life around him and watch his frantic dismissal of everyday life trivialities in addition to the large-scale over analysis, pessimism and consistent hostility towards other characters, e.g. Bessie. Salinger originally had 'Franny' and 'Zooey' published as separate components of the 'Glass Family' stories in the New Yorker magaZine, and it is for this reason that I am addressing only 'Zooey' as a single text. Although Franny is equally important as an individual character, when examining Zooey -as I am taking Zooey to be more extreme in his flaws and a more complex one in his understanding of them (a trait which Franny does not posses) - she should only be addressed in relation to how Zooey interacts with her and she with him, paying attention to how the siblings view each other, but taking my analysis of her no further.

Secondly, Tom Ripley - the only main character in 'The Talented Mr Ripley - demands all of an audience's focus and attention. His progression begins, unlike Zooey's, from the beginning of the story and maps out his progression before the reader. Although Tom appears to be amoral and reckless, there is generated by Highsmith an intense feeling of compassion toward him. Tom's original deceit, theft, and his inability to accept his position is addressed very early on and the compassion surrounding Tom built through his naпvetй (for example regarding this hopes of becoming an actor) as well as Tom being presented as 'good'. Tom chooses not to take the book in the first class library, not buying the shirt on the Greenleaf's account as well as not cashing in the cheques, although it was "a pity he couldn't cash them"; both basic 'right' actions. We are safe in a false sense of security very early on in the book as toward the end of chapter six, our impression of Tom is of a warm-hearted, but slightly misguided, non stereotypical American and is already being separated and contrasted with the other characters round him, "he doesn't act like an American'. Tom leaves the reader constantly battling with their conscience and, although he is flawed in his actions, the justification throughout softens the blow - in direct contrast to Zooey's highlighting and submitting.

The basic difference between the flaws of Tom and Zooey lies in that one is aware of what he is doing, but does nothing to change and the other does not see himself as doing anything wrong, justifying constantly and posing reasonable explanations to such an extent as to question the reader's morals entirely. Zooey states, "there's something I do to people's morale" and is fully aware that he is not acting how he is telling Franny to. He preaches to his sister about her use



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