The Glass Family Series
The Glass Family Chronology
It's a Wise Child
"In "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters", Buddy Glass first introduces readers to the members of his family and provides a short history of the clan. Buddy reports being one of seven children. First and foremost, there is twenty-five-year-old Seymour Glass, the story’s bride-groom. When not avoiding marriage ceremonies, Seymour is stationed at an air base in California (after having served basic training at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey) where he is a corporal in the Air Corps. Readers were familiar with Seymour’s character through “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and were anxious to learn more about him in the hopes of discovering the reasons behind his 1948 suicide. Two years younger than Seymour is Buddy himself, the narrator of "Raise High" and all succeeding Glass family tales. Buddy is a soldier in the army in 1942, on leave from Fort Benning, Georgia in order to attend the wedding. By a process of elimination, readers recognize that Buddy is actually Webb Glass, the owner of the goggles that Lionel Tannenbaum tosses into the lake in “Down at the Dinghy.” Next in line is Beatrice, an ensign in the navy. Beatrice has adopted Buddy and Seymour’s New York apartment in their wartime absence. She is known as Boo Boo to her family and readers alike, who easily recognize her as Lionel’s tender and admirable mother in “Down at the Dinghy.” Then there is a pair of twins, Walt and Waker. Walt is a soldier serving in the Pacific at the time of the story, and Waker is serving isolation as a conscientious objector. While Waker’s character was new to readers in 1955, Walt Glass was acknowledged as the lost love of Eloise Wengler in “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” the same ill-fated soldier who would lose his life to the arbitrary explosion of a Japanese lantern. The youngest of the children, thirteen-year-old Zooey and eight year-old Franny, remained with their parents in Los Angeles. Franny’s character was the most recent in reader memory. Her own story had been published earlier that year, while Zooey’s was still two years away. Salinger may have even tried to connect the parents, Les and Bessie Glass, to previous works. Buddy mentions his mother’s maiden name of Gallagher much in the same way as Boo Boo Tannenbaum mentioned her maiden name of Glass in “Down at the Dinghy.” Throughout Salinger’s Glass stories, there is no clear connection between Bessie Glass and Jane Gallagher of The Catcher in the Rye, but the name’s very inclusion could easily have been used by Salinger to construct future stories, had he chosen.
Here is a cursory timeline of the Glass Family, its events drawn from each story in which they appear.
Page numbers reference the 1991 Little, Brown and Company paperback editions of Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour-An Introduction. “Hapworth 16, 1924” references correspond to their locations in the June 19 1965 edition of The New Yorker containing that story.
- Seymour Glass is born in February (“Zooey” 181-182).
- Webb G. “Buddy” Glass is born (“Hapworth” 112).
- Bessie Glass gives birth to the twins, Walt and Waker (“Hapworth” 80).
1921 - 23
- The Glass Family tour Australia with their vaudeville act, “Gallagher and Glass”. During the tour, in 1922, Seymour takes a ride on Joe Jackson's nickel-plated bicycle (“Seymour” 145-149).
- Upon returning home to New York after the vaudeville tour, Seymour begins a serious study of religion (“Hapworth” 88).
- Shortly after Christmas, Seymour has his first clairvoyant experience during which he glimpses the previous incarnations of himself and his brother, Buddy (“Hapworth" 50).
- Seymour and Buddy spend the summer at Camp Simon Hapworth, Maine
- July 16 – Seymour gashes his leg on a cart wheel while on a camp excursion. He receives eleven stitches but refuses anesthesia. The next day, Seymour begins his long letter to his family, written in the camp infirmary. (“Hapworth” 73).
- During the spring, Les and Bessie Glass retire from vaudeville. (“Seymour” 119).
- Seymour and Buddy race each other to the drug store (“Seymour” 211).
- Seymour and Buddy begin their appearances on the radio quiz show, “It's a Wise Child” (“Carpenters” 7, “Zooey” 153).
- Seymour helps a neighbor, Charlotte Mayhew, secure a spot on “It's a Wise Child” (“Carpenters” 81).
- Seymour instructs Buddy on how how to play marbles ( "Seymour” 202).
- Seymour becomes infatuated with Japanese and Chinese poetry. He begins to write his own poems, crafting one about John Keats (“Seymour” 122, 124).
- The Glasses move into their apartment in the East Seventies (“Zooey” 74).
- Zachary “Zooey” Glass is born (“Carpenters” 3).
- Seymour throws a stone at Charlotte Mayhew, disfiguring her (“Carpenters” 80).
- Seymour is examined by a group of Freudian psychologists (“Seymour” 98).
- Waker Glass receives a new bicycle from his parents and gives it away to a boy in Central Park
- Seymour, while only 15, enters Columbia University (“Carpenters” 26).
- Seymour makes a controversial comment about Abraham Lincoln on the radio and is thrown off “It's a Wise Child.” In protest, Buddy also leaves the show (“Carpenters” 73-74).
- Franny Glass is born (“Carpenters” 3).
- Seymour reads a Taoist tale to the infant Franny (“Carpenters” 3).
- Seymour obtains his doctorate from Columbia University (“Seymour” 156).
- Seymour decides not to publish his poetry (“Seymour” 124).
- Buddy enrolls in a short story writing course taught by “Professor B” at Columbia University ("Seymour" 154).
- Seymour and Buddy move from their parents' house into an apartment on 79 th Street (“ Seymour” 160).
- Seymour tells Buddy to follow his heart when writing (“Seymour” 151).
- December – Buddy registers for the draft (“Seymour” 160).
- Seymour is drafted into the army and stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey (“Carpenters” 9, 26).
- Seymour slashes his wrists but survives the injury (“Carpenters” 70).
- Winter - Seymour begins dating Muriel Fedder (“Carpenters” 9, 72-73).
- February – Buddy is drafted into the army and stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia (“Carpenters” 5).
- Les and Bessie Glass are in California, where Les begins working for the motion picture industry. With them are Franny and Zooey (“Carpenters” 6).
- Boo Boo ( Beatrice) Glass is an ensign in the navy and stationed at the Brooklyn Naval Base. Buddy becomes ill with pleurisy (“Carpenters” 6).
- Spring – Seymour is transferred to an Air Corps base in California (“Carpenters” 7).
- May 22 or 23 –Boo Boo sends Buddy a letter asking him to represent the family at Seymour's wedding to Muriel Fedder (“Carpenters” 3).
- June 4 - Seymour and Muriel elope.
- Seymour is sent overseas to fight the Second World War in Europe (“Seymour” 113).
1945 - 48
- After the war, Seymour is confined to a military psychiatric hospital (“Seymour” 114).
- Late autumn – Walt Glass is killed in Japan at age 22 (“Uncle Wiggily” 33).
- Buddy moves to a remote farmhouse in New York State (“Seymour” 138).
- Seymour returns home to his wife from Europe (“Seymour” 113, 134).
- March 19 – Seymour commits suicide in a Florida hotel room (“Bananafish” 18).
- Buddy writes“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (“Seymour” 112).
- Buddy publishes The Catcher in the Rye (“Seymour” 111-112).
- January – Buddy publishes the story “ Teddy” (“Seymour” 176).
- November – Franny Glass collapses in a restaurant and comes home to New York to recover from a spiritual crisis. Buddy begins to pen the story “Zooey” (“Zooey” 50).
- Buddy writes “ Seymour-An Introduction” (“Seymour” 106).
- May 28 - Buddy relays the entire contents of a letter written by his brother Seymour in 1924 and sent to him by his mother, Bessie (“Hapworth” 32).