Salinger Revisited: Pretty Mouth and Green my Eyes

This is perhaps the oddest story in the collection.IMG 1414 The other stories in the collection tend to follow a certain pattern but this one does not. We have a somewhat mysterious scenario with a man with a young woman apparently in his apartment for a romantic adventure which is interrupted by a phone call from an offstage character. The reader discovers the identity of the man and his caller over the course of the story, but the identity of the woman is never revealed. Instead, Salinger plays an interesting game in which he pushes the reader to believe that the woman is the caller’s wife. The story ends with the caller saying that his wife has just come home and the man abruptly ending the call. I can see two ways to interpret this: One is that the caller has realized where his wife is and is playing a mind game with the man in the room. The other is that the mind game is being played, not on the man, but on us the readers. I rather prefer that second interpretation, that Salinger is taking the conventions of a story like this and pushing the story in a completely unexpected direction.

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