Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

A. Bryant Mangum


J.D. Salinger’s ‘A Girl I Knew,’ ‘Just Before the War with the Eskimos,’ and ‘Blue Melody,’ contain key thematic and narratological elements that contribute to the development of character through repeated reference to tactile imagery and through each character’s reaction to the sensations associated with tactile images. Salinger’s descriptions of tactile interaction allow readers to see his characters connected in ways that were increasingly difficult in the 1950’s, where widespread cultural changes contributed to increasing physical and emotional distancing. Critics have argued that “vision” is at the heart of many of Salinger’s characters’ struggles, since they “seek” a level of human connectedness not found in other narratives. However, Salinger's stories do not provide a mere record of observed physical characteristics as some claim; instead, they present concrete physical details that take both the character and the reader beyond sight to touch, in an effort to create the intimate space necessary for redemption. Using theoretical work by critics who focus on tactile imagery pinpoints how Salinger’s characters situate themselves in relation to the world around them and how setting and other narrative mechanics influence character. Salinger’s attention to tactile imagery influences character in a profound way creating a “narrative of immediacy” where closeness is further reinforced through tactile physical descriptions, attention to gesture, and use of conversational popular vernacular.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2011