An Analysis Of For Esmé: With Love And Squalor

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A Wristwatch – Connecting Love and Warfare J.D. Salinger’s “For Esmé—With Love and Squalor” provides several symbolic characters and imagery to help show the deeper meaning to the stories’ surface. At the start of the story, a soldier and two young children meet and proceed to have, what seems to be an innocent conversation, yet turns out to be crucial. Sergeant X, better known as the innocent soldier, who was introduced at the beginning of the story, returns from war described as, “a young man who had not come through the war with all his faculties intact…” (Salinger 104). In contrast to the depressed solider, Esmé, the young girl, hides the emotional effects of the war ever since it took her beloved father from her. She represents the deeply…show more content…
She explains that her deceased father gave her the watch before she and her bother were evacuated from the country because of the war. He gave her this watch “purely as a memento” (Salinger 100), yet to her, it means much more than that. We soon come to realize that looking deeper into the meaning of the watch, the reality is that the proportion of the oversized face of the watch, compared to her wrist is actually a symbol of the proportion of emotions she is hiding, compared to what she is actually capable of dealing with. She is an extremely young and naïve girl who is carrying around the death of her parents as well as having to hid emotions for the sake of her younger brother. The watch is proportionally way to large for her tiny little wrist. In comparison, the amount of hardship and flood of emotions for a parent’s love and compassion are way to large for such a young, adolescent girl, who has the task to take care of her brother. This watch is not just a memento, yet a memory of her father and the man he was; the person who she needs to be for her…show more content…
Salinger used the symbolism of a watch to connect the old and the young and the broken and the fixed. He shows us the effects a single wristwatch can have on a person’s emotions as well as the connections humans can make through a single item or one common interest, the letters. Salinger highlights the father daughter relationship compared to a stranger stranger relationship. He shows that a father’s love, even if its just a memory, can help a daughter though hard times. A stranger, the solider, can be effected by a young, naïve girl, Esmé, who has had had a rough life yet overcome her hardships through the compassion of others. Through love, she has shown a wounded Sergeant X, the “chance of again becoming a man with all his fac - with all his f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact” (Salinger

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