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Down at the Dinghy"
Transcript of Down at the Dinghy"
The dirty adult world
Two maids, name with capital letter “S” to represent typical adult woman (Which Salinger puts very low point of view on)
She is the first maid that appears on our horizon. According to her repeated behavior, we know she is anxious, nervous and impetuous. She definitely lacks proper education since she has very strong oral English pronunciation. According to the dialog, she is rather tired of her work; it establishes her rancor as she speaks.
She is the second character which appears in the story. The older and more patient maid who seems to not care about things which are unimportant to her. She has a phlegmatic temperament.
- While conversation in kitchen:
+ speak about worried topic
+ shallow, cruel, speak about things that hurt other people
- Later in the story, during the conversation between Boo Boo and Lionel, he says
“Sandra---told Mrs. Smell—that Daddy’s a big—sloppy—kike.”
- This reveals new information: the women are anti-Semitic.
- They have done put Lionel in an awful situation that makes him upset, and depressed.
Boo Boo Tannenbaum
- Main female character; part of Glass Family
- The author describes her attractively – just as how he describes children in other stories.
- According to Salinger’s description the readers find her an irresistible beauty which is so different from the maids who have very poor description.
- This image indicates her grace in front of child.
- Through the conversation she has with her son, her great values are revealed. - She is a successful parent.
- She is kind, patient and childish.
But not immature. She is actually very mature and it is seen in how she is able to communicate with her child in an open way.
- Example: she doesn't correct Lionel's definition of "kike". She just comforts him.
- She is willing to do everything in order to protect his innocence and innocent childhood.
- Different from other stories, BooBoo, the existing adult is playing the role of child that Salinger contributes positive perspective to in the story. Her childish behavior, pure and simple mind are very impressive, which gives out one of the purposes of the story.
- He is cute, innocent and sensitive boy.
-According to Salinger’s faint description of the little buy’s image, we find that it’s difficult to focus, it's spinning and it’s kind of fantastic.
In the other words, the conversation between mom and son is making the step to unrealistic-like world of children.
- Lionel’s in obedient behavior shows his hatred to the situation, the reality world that adults have set up. It reflects how terrible the dirty part of mature world impacts the innocent child’s mind.
Conflicts and Resolutions
Maid vs. Matron
- Even in their low position, they have no trouble gossiping about the lady of the house.
- Comment on the strangeness of Lionel and how "it drives ya loony!" (the fact that they must weight every action and word around him)
- Not sympathetic towards the fact that he often runs away.
- Are rather self centered - they believe his sensitivity is just another thing to worry about.
- Even comment on the fact that no one in the family goes in the water. This is not their business.
- Clear indication of tension is that they fall silent once Boo Boo enters the kitchen. If they had nothing to hide, they would continue. They obviously did not want her to overhear.
- This conflict was not resolved by the end of the story.
- It was not the most important one in the story.
Parent vs Child
- Prevalent conflict
- Boo Boo has trouble communicating with her son, who seems to be in his own little world
- She attempts to communicate to the soft spoken boy through naval references in order to get on his level and earn his attention and trust
- Initially rejects her attempts - says that she is not an admiral, but a lady. He also does not let her in his boat.
- He also throws Boo Boo's peace offerings into the water; goggles and keys.
- It can be seen that Boo Boo's attempts are somewhat futile, because he responds with defiance and anger
- However, at the end of the story the conflict is resolved.
-Once Lionel lets down his guard and begins to cry, it gives Boo Boo an opportunity to comfort her son – what she wanted to do from the very beginning.
- The slightly weakened bond is now strengthened.
Jew vs "Normal"
- Is the conflict running in the background of the story.
- Written in 1948, it contains influences of the Second World War and the persecution of the Jews.
- The fact that the Tannenbaum family is Jewish one of the main reasons why conflict between the maids and Boo Boo arises.
- Regardless of the fact that Boo Boo is an affluent woman of position, she is still a Jew in the eyes of her maids and society.
- This is another conflict which did not get resolved, because the harsh reality is that it took years for it to be improved.
-Anti-Semitism is such an enormous issue that it cannot be solved within a fifteen page short story.
-Seen in "kike" and "hes gonna have a nose just like the father".
This story is just one example of the many families struggling with anti-Semitism after the war. The mentioned “Leech’s Landing” is in Minnesota, a popular immigration place in Minnesota for Jews struggling with persecution.
- Why third person point of view?
It’s like “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”, the author use third person point of view.
- He didn’t write through the perspective of the maids nor mom nor child. Why?
- The readers don't know Sandra's, Mrs. Snell's, Boo Boo's or Lionel's thoughts.
Causes readers to question and wonder what they are thinking, and to figure out what the character's motives are.
He shows little pieces of their selves through personality, emotion, likes, and hatred are all showed by their words, manners, behaviors, even tone of voice
- J.D.Salinger is very good at describing details
- One of the best examples in the text is,
“He then immediately looked up at Boo Boo, his eyes filled not with defiance but tears. In another instant, his mouth was distorted into a horizontal figure-8, and he was crying mightily.”
Symbols and Literary Devices
– Salinger did not give her such silly name for no reason. Her name symbolizes how childlike she is.
Her name is one that not many would take seriously – just like how not many would treat a child seriously. Her name reflects her child like attitude and personality.
– literally means “Little Lion”.
Here, Salinger’s naming of a character is ironic because Lionel is everything but lion-like.
He is timid, shy, and does not like attention.
He is also a rather weak and delicate boy. Definitely not strong and ferocious.
– The family’s surname is actually the name of a failed Nazi Invasion Operation.
Operation Tannenbaum was meant to take place during the second world war and planned to overtake Switzerland.
Her name has a taste of Nazi regime in it, and being persecuted by the Nazis for being a Jew – it is a rather interesting choice of surname from Salinger.
- Symbolize sight.
- Once belonged to Seymour Glass, who could “see more”. - Maybe were his gift to a future young family member, in hopes that he can “put on the goggles” and “see more clearly”. - Perhaps he hoped that since failed to save Sybil, he can at least try to save a child of his own blood.
- When Lionel throws them into water, he shows that he doesn’t want to see clearly. He doesn’t want to see the world as it truly is; wants to remain ignorant towards the truth.
Symbolize the entrance to new doors in life. Again, by throwing them away Lionel shows that he does not want to open these doors. He does not want to be aware of new things – because although finding out new information can be beneficial, most time it is heartbreaking. He wants to remain a child for as long as possible.
“Dinghy [which was] stripped of its main and jib sails’’
- Symbolizes a family stripped of its structure. Even though the Tannenbaum family is not completely broken, it is also not a picture-perfect family.
The father is not directly present in this story, the son continuously runs away from home and the mother struggles to keep close contact with her son.
It can be predicted that this family had gone through a lot of hardships, even if just keeping in mind anti-Semitism.
The perfect structure is not present, but Boo Boo fights for it to be repaired.
Allusion: Kentucky Babe-
Boo Boo sings this tune as she approaches Lionel. The lyrics are as follows:
“Sandman am a comin’ to this little child of mine”
“Fly away Kentucky Babe, close your eyes in sleep, fly away” (cite)
Sandman was a mythical European creature who brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children while they sleep"
Boo Boo wants her son to be saved. She wants her son to have his eyes closed to the awful world around him. (Awful people – “you stink, kid”; anti-Semitic comments “kike”, etc).
Wants her son to have as lovely as a life as he can and for him to be exposed to as little hardships are possible.
“Get off! Nobody can come in.”
– When Lionel says this, he does not only mean the boat. He also has in mind his life. He is a very quiet and secretive boy, who does not enjoy letting people enter his life. He prefers to remain closed, even to his mother.
“No, I can’t (talk from there). It’s too big of a distance. I have to get up close” –
Here, Boo Boo does not only mean the distance of her to the boat.
She means the distance between her and her son. There is something in the way of them being close and she wants to close the distance in order to have her son close to her side.
Literally and figuratively.
The story reflects the differences and co-operation between the dirty adult world and innocent children’s world. It is significant that the squalor part of the mature world can have such a huge impact on the immature mind of children.
Salinger is using this to point out an advanced education system between parents and kids.
It is an acceptable way to solve family conflict and relationship.
What’s more, family relationship is playing an important role in our life, which would affect both metal and physical self condition. This peaceful relationship of mother and son is what everyone expects.
The story shows the negative part of social discrimination, the anti-Semitism. This shallow point of view would wipe a brush of dark shadow on other’s mind, especially children. This is injustice.
Why do you think Lionel is the way he is?
Is it because of the hatred toward Jews that he experiences so early in his life?
Does he have deeply rooted psychological issues? Or is he just a quiet kid who enjoys solitude?
How does BooBoo differ from the parents in “Teddy” or any other adult characters in Salinger’s stories? Why do you think so?
Is there an apparent connection between Seymour Glass and the actions of Lionel? Are there any differences?
Similarities with Other Stories
Boo Tannenbaum vs Booper McArdle
Both names are very similar, and very childlike.
Although Boo Boo is an adult, the way that Salinger describes her, and the way the character deals with her son, is almost childlike.
She plays with him, is casual towards him, and jokes with him.
Like Booper in Teddy, they both like playing games.
"Down at the Dinghy" vs "A Perfect Day for a Bananafish"
Boo Boo is Seymour’s sister. Makes references to him when she says that the goggles “once belonged to your Uncle Seymour”.
Salinger also shows connections between Lionel and his uncle. They both isolate themselves and were both affected by the war in some way.
Lionel vs. Charles
Both very young and innocent.
Both aren’t quite aware of what is going on around them.
Both were affected by the war.
Through Salinger’s often references to the war and how severely it affects people of all ages we can see how closely he connects with that subject.
Mrs. Snell/Sandra vs. Muriel and her Mother
Both of them enjoy to gossip about things of low importance: Muriel and her mother about fashions and Sandra and Mrs. Snell about the warmth of coffee.
The two groups seem to not be interested in the other’s answers. They do not listen to one another and constantly interject when the other is speaking. This self-centred attitude is prevalent in Salinger’s works.
Woman vs. Man
This story is all about Boo Boo a mother and her son Lionel. Although the father is briefly mentioned, the short story is mostly based on Boo Boo.
Adults vs. Child
In reality an adult is supposed to be the one more liked by the audience.
However, in this story Salinger keeps the focus on the positive aspects of childhood and makes childlike behavior more favorable than adults.
Master vs. Maids
The story is started by the maids gossiping, and talking about the family. While in reality it is more likely viewed that the wealthy people do the gossiping.
Water vs. Land
In this story, the majority of it takes place on a dock in the water which is unstable. Usually water is a source of anxiety and danger and in reality most people prefer land which is steady and supportive. Here, the opposite is shown.