For Esm-With Love and Squalor, A Literary Criticism

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In the short story “For Esmé-With Love and Squalor”, J.D. Salinger beautifully portrays the transformation in a man from a humble soldier to a depressed veteran. At the start of the story, Sergeant X is an all around average man ready to help his country and invade the Axis power during World War II. Once he meets Esmé, a young girl in a British tea room, she instills within him the hope to carry on from tragedy. When tragedy strikes Sergeant X just six weeks later it is that same courage Esmé showed that helps X to recover from his depression. The two different sides of X, his unburdened side and his depressed side, two outright opposites, are told by Salinger using two different methods. His unburdened side is told in first person, thus making him seem more personal and generally caring. While his depressed side is told in third person and uses a lot of morose adjectives, thus making X seem mysterious and secluded. When we are first introduced to Sergeant X, he is an average soldier occupying a tearoom. Salinger uses first person point-of-view to describe X’s feelings and thoughts of his surroundings. Seeing Esmé he becomes interested because she stands so far out from the other children. When Salinger describes this meeting, he uses many metaphors and similes to depict Esmé’s general optimistic attitude even though she has lost so much. As X hears her speak in her sophisticated vocabulary he is entranced that a girl so young can speak so well. Her dialogue, although mature, still represents youth and happiness and generally makes the reader feel good, considering the mood. Taking place on a rainy day, in the middle of an intense war results in a rather dismal mood for the story and every little moment that mentions the slightest happy thought provides the most minor uplifting. Sergeant X’s dialogue is a little more rough and masculine yet still gives the
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