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Like Camus' hero Sisyphus, Salinger's two novels look at nihilistic man, the man who has given up the possibility of finding a meaning–a response–from the universe's wall of indifference. The novels are based on the condescending, though largely accurate, presumption that modern society consists of individuals who have unconsciously decided they'll never find meaning in their lives and who, in lieu of meaning, wallow in the banality and vulgarity that Chesterton warned about. This is the thrust of Zooey Glass' severe reaction to his mother's plans to send Franny to a psychiatrist: European travel, elections, mass media, and other “gloriously normal” things might sustain the rest of society because society has effectively given up on meaning and has therefore settled for such things in substitution, but they are shallow and hence aren't fit for a sensitive soul like Franny's. Salinger snarled at such things because he saw that they're banal.

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