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Salinger's Style in Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters  

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters   J.D. Salinger exhibits a unique and interesting style throughout his many short stories. Salinger's use of language is what distinguishes him from many of the writers in his time (Kazin 296). Salinger is an expert at using the language of his stories to convey emotion to the reader. There is never a leisurely moment in a Salinger short story as he keeps the reader's attention through his excessive use of details.

The excessive use of detail is a primary way that Salinger keeps his reader interested in his stories (Kazin 296). At all times in the story Salinger describes something. A prime example of the excessive use of detail is the following:

She drew aside the curtain and leaned her wrist on one of the crosspieces between panes, but, feeling grit, she removed it, rubbed it clean with her other hand, and stood by more erectly. Outside, the filthy slush was visibly turning to ice. Mary Jane let go the curtain and wandered back to the blue chair, passing two heavily stocked bookcases without glancing at any of the titles. (Salinger Nine 22)

The way that Salinger describes the chair and the bookcase exemplifies this point. Salinger does not want the reader to ever lose interest in his story. The "filthy slush" lets the reader feel what is actually happening in the story. This paragraph is an example of very strong imagery. Salinger repeats this description often throughout the story often intertwined with episodes of dialogue. This style of writing keeps the work flowing. Another prime example of Salinger's detail can be found in one simple sentence. "Her voice sounded strangely leveled off, stripped of even the ghost of italics," says the narrator in Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters. This one sentence lets the reader get a very clear picture to what is going on. The reader always knows what each of the characters is doing as though not to lose track of them (Kazin 296).

Salinger also excels at developing his characters in a very short time (Kazin 296). A short story does not leave very much time for character development. Salinger's unique style and superb use of detail allow for the reader to really get to know each character as well as possible. This development of character can be seen in the following passage from Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters:

I thought maybe I'd read something to her," Seymour said, and took down a book. "She's ten months old, for God's sake," I said. "I know," Seymour said. "They have ears. They can hear." The story Seymour read to Franny that night, was a favorite of his, a Taoist tale. To this day, Franny swears that she remembers Seymour reading it to her. (Salinger Raise 4)

This small paragraph tells the reader much about Buddy, Seymour, and Franny. This immediately lets the reader know about the relationship between Franny and Seymour. Obviously, Franny has some feelings for Seymour because she says she remembers this story for her entire life. Franny is only ten months old and Seymour still chooses to read to her which shows how much Seymour cares for her at this time. This passage shows that the narrator does not have much of an open mind as does Seymour. He is against the idea of reading to a ten-month year old child. In just these five lines, the reader has learned much about three characters due to Salinger's superb use of language and unique style.

Salinger's style and structure contribute to the overall effect of his short stories. Salinger expertly conveys the emotions of the characters through his use of language. Salinger also creates images in the readers mind through his use of detail. His style can best be summarized as unique.


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