J.D. Salinger, author of the classic Catcher in the Rye (1951), wrote the stories Franny and Zooey for publication in the New Yorker magazine in 1955 and 1957 respectively. Both stories were part of a series centred around a family of settlers in New York, the Glasses, particularly the children of Les and Bessie Glass, a Jewish-Irish theatrical act. All are brilliant former radio actors. Their eldest child, Seymour, a genius, commits suicide in his thirties. The repercussions to the family of this act provide the unifying theme to the stories.
In Franny and Zooey the youngest member of the family, Franny, has a religious and nervous breakdown. She attempts to ward off the meaninglessness of college life by the obsessive repetition of a Jesus prayer. Her brother Zachary (Zooey) rests at nothing in his attempts to restore her sanity.
J.D. Salinger wrote the Glass stories, 'It is a long-term project, patently an ambitious one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose, that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in ly own methods, locutions and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill.'