March 20, Salinger, J. Boston: Little, Brown, Character List: Eloise Wengler — the woman of the house where the story is set, mother of Ramona and wife of Lew, former girlfriend of Walt Glass. Is a member of the Glass family.
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Neither of them ever graduated, the narrator tells us. Eloise beckons her over to speak to Mary Jane. Ramona has an imaginary friend, whom she calls Jimmy.
After an ellipsis, we find Eloise and Mary Jane deep in conversation about a man named Walt. We learn that Walt was a former love of Eloise, who tries to explain to Mary Jane just how funny he was.
I used to wait for him at the bus stop, right outside the PX, and he showed up late once, just as the bus was pulling out. We started to run for it, and I fell and twisted my ankle.
He laughs at cartoons and stuff. She refers to his having been drafted when they were dating, and we learn later he was killed in World War II. But never honestly. Eloise feels her forehead, decides she is feverish, and tells her to go upstairs and lie in bed. Later that evening, Eloise goes up to visit Ramona, who is sleeping on the side of her bed. Go on. One day after tennis, Ginnie decides to demand that Selena pay her back for all the cab rides she has been covering.
Selena does not take kindly to the demand. When told no, she follows with the assertion that she always brings the tennis balls. Ginnie follows her into her apartment. Selena asks Ginnie to wait in the living room while she goes to get her mother. Ginnie, unfazed, sits and waits. Shortly thereafter a young man shouts from another end of the apartment, then appears. Right down to the bone and all? After changing the subject and offering Ginnie the remaining half of a chicken sandwich in his room, he asks the name of the man Joan is marrying.
The conversation continues. Then he says he has to go shave, and asks Ginnie to tell Eric, when he does arrive, that he will be ready shortly. He leaves, then reappears a moment later with the sandwich. She says he is shaving.
Eric is furious over something that has just happened to him. Shortly thereafter, Selena reappears with the money. I forgot about that. Very little actually happens, but much can be read between the lines. Eloise even betrays a sneering and contemptuous attitude toward her maid.
Quickly, however, Salinger moves to inject empathy into the proceedings. The talk shifts to Walt, the only boy Eloise seems to have ever truly loved. It becomes more and more evident that Eloise is unhappy in her marriage to Lew — a dunderheaded man for whom she has no respect — and that she pines for the days she spent with Walt. One is left to wonder whether Walt and Eloise would have married if Walt had survived, and whether the marriage would have maintained the charm and joy of their time together before the war, or whether it would have instead merely dissolved into coldness and apathy.
In other words, were Lew and Eloise perhaps once in love? Did Lew once make Eloise laugh the way Walt did? In focusing his ever-satirical but ever-compassionate gaze on the unhappily married housewife, Salinger begs the question of whether all marriages are inherently doomed. Eloise waxes nostalgic about her youth, but it is precisely because those days remain locked in the past that she is able to idealize them. Significantly, Lew never makes an appearance in the story, so we are unable to judge him for ourselves.
Youth is glorified through the prism of memory; the resulting feeling is one of regret, longing, a sense of loss. It is not by chance that the next story in Nine Stories takes youth as not just its theme but its subject.
From the yearnings of middle-aged housewives we shift abruptly to the far more lighthearted games and trifles of teenaged and twenty-something girls and boys. Here too, the war is mentioned, and Franklin, in joking that another war is on its way, seems perhaps to even allude to the coming Korean War. Geographically speaking, the inhabitants of what is now North Korea were not too far removed from the territories inhabited by Siberian Eskimos; on a more probable level, Franklin may be jumbling together the two races in a thoughtless or racist quip.
Still, heartache looms at the edges. Ginnie, for her part, feels used and mistreated by Selena, who is visibly the more domineering of the two friends and even something of a bully; Ginnie is made to feel guilty for simply asking that Selena cover her share of the cab fare. That said, the cruelties and hardships these characters exhibit and suffer are tempered with the hopefulness that comes with youth; they are kids acting out with and against one another, and they have many years ahead of them to correct their past mistakes or fulfill their youthful longings.
Eloise, on the other hand, has no such recourse. She must resort to lashing out at her daughter — by implication a member of the next generation of prosperous but unhappily-married wives — and collapsing in tears by the side of her college friend. With no hope in her future, the warmth of memories constitutes her only means of escape.
Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut by J.D. Salinger
Neither of them ever graduated, the narrator tells us. Eloise beckons her over to speak to Mary Jane. Ramona has an imaginary friend, whom she calls Jimmy. After an ellipsis, we find Eloise and Mary Jane deep in conversation about a man named Walt.
Reader’s Guide – “Uncle Wiggily In Connecticut”
Plot summary[ edit ] The story unfolds at the upscale Wengler home; all the characters who appear in the scene are female. Eloise Wengler is a middle-aged and jaded suburbanite housewife in an unhappy marriage to Lew Wengler. Mary Jane is her former college roommate who works part-time as a secretary. She is divorced. Neither woman graduated from the college they attended together.
Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut
Salinger we have the theme of loss, disillusion, youth, insecurity, love and escape. Taken from his Nine Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after first reading the story the reader realises that Salinger may be exploring the theme of escape. There is the fact that Eloise spends the entirety of the story drinking, preferring not to have to deal with the realities of life wife and mother. It is quite possible that Eloise may spend every day drinking as Salinger makes no suggestion to the reader that she does anything else with her day. It is also noticeable that Ramona has two imaginary friends Jimmy and Mickey , the reader sensing that her escape into a world populated with imaginary friends is triggered by the lack of love her mother shows her. Throughout the story Eloise shows very little affection or understanding to her daughter though she does appear to change at the end of the story. Both feel a loss and as such escape into worlds that in essence are not real.