Franny and Zooey: Plot
Franny and Zooey follows two members of the Glass family. In the first story, Franny, the title character visits her boyfriend to attend a sports game. They go to a fancy restaurant, but she is not hungry. She listens to her boyfriend talk about a paper he wrote that he wants Franny to read. Pale, sweating, and chain smoking, she rants against egotism in academia.
Lane, her boyfriend, notices something is patently wrong. She excuses herself to cry in the bathroom. She returns and tells him about a book she is reading where a Russian peasant learns a way to pray incessantly, releasing a capability to “see God”. The method requires one to say the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” One can say it with their lips before it becomes synchronized with their heart. Franny faints in the restaurant at the end of the story.
Zooey opens with Zooey Glass in the bathtub. He is a famous television actor reading a letter from his brother Buddy. In the letter, Buddy explains why he and his other brother Seymour instituted such a rigorous religious education on the younger Zooey and Franny, which could explain why the two younger siblings are not socially well-adjusted.
Zooey talks to Franny, who has returned to the family home. He eventually can enlighten her to a philosophy of respect for all human beings, even if you don’t like them. Their talk can bring Franny some peace by the end of the novel.