ABSTRACT. In this paper, I will reconsider the depiction of Christian symbols in J. D. Salinger’s Nine stories, specifically in terms of how the main female characters in the following three short stories have some connections with, and to a great extent are represented as, the Virgin Mary. I will first look at the way Ginnie in Just before the War with the Eskimos (first published in 1948) is depicted as the Virgin Mary in relation to her friend’s brother Franklin, whose outward appearance and inward agony stand for those of Jesus Christ bearing his cross. As for Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut (first published in 1948), I will analyze Eloise’s reminiscing about her deceased lover Walt, whose action of touching and praising her stomach evokes the Annunciation in Christianity. I will then assert the ways in which Joanie exhibits several significant aspects of the Virgin Mary through the discussion of the Christian imagery seen frequently in the text of Pretty mouth and green my eyes (first published in 1951). Finally, I will demonstrate that these, if anything, pessimistic allusions to the Virgin Mary in the three stories first published in The New Yorker evidence the author’s search for an alternative value system, which functions as an undercurrent throughout the whole of his literature as well as a budding phase prior to the inclination toward Eastern thought reflected in his later works.

Keywords: J. D. Salinger; Nine stories; Christianity; Virgin Mary; Jesus Christ; Christian symbolism

How to cite: Oda T (2020) Is the Virgin Mary blessed? Revisiting Christian symbolism in three of J. D. Salinger’s short stories. Creativity 3(1): 51–67. doi:10.22381/C3120202

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Graduate School of Humanities,
Kobe University; Kobe, Japan

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