An American soldier stationed in Devon in April, , meets a precocious 13 year old girl, named Esme, and her brother, Charles, 5. They have a brief, . “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor” is a short story by J. D. Salinger. It recounts a sergeant’s . Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. By using this site, you agree to the. Use our free chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis of For Esmé with Love and Squalor. It helps middle and high school students understand J.D. Salinger’s .

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Clay stared at him for a moment, then said, rather vividly as if he were the bearer of exceptionally good news, “I wrote Loretta you had a nervous breakdown. Charles tells his joke again, and the narrator finishes the punch line. Now, for the third time since he had returned from the hos- pital that day, he opened the woman’s book and read the brief sqalor tion on the flyleaf.

I don’t want to hear about it, Clay. Her hair was soaking wet, and the rims of both ears were lovs. They sang without instrumental accompaniment — or, more accu- rately in their case, without any interference.

For Esme – with Love and Squalor

Soon after, the pretty young girl from choir practice comes into the tearoom with a governess and a little boy. He’s right under your feet, Clay How ’bout turning on the goddamn light? I drank my tea for a moment. It’ll probably last till around two. His response to the invitation is to offer a few written notes regarding the bride.

Alone on the page, and in the sickly stillness of the room, the words appeared to have the stature of an uncontestable, even classic indictment. Willya fix it up for me? Then, with far more zeal than he had done anything in weeks, he picked up a pencil stub and wrote down under the inscription, in English, “Fathers and teachers, I ponder ‘What is heil?

Show it to ya later,” Clay said, listlessly He sat up straight on the edge of the bed, held his breath, and issued a long, resonant belch. Boy, have you got the shakes.

In addition to burned corpses, the GIs found close to a hundred bodies scattered over the camp, along a path to the railroad tracks, and in a nearby forest…Some of the photos show blackened bodies still smoldering in the ruins of the burned-down barracks…Salinger encountered the smell of burning flesh, which he said he would never be able to get out of his nostrils.


All through the war, Clay had read all Loretta’s letters ffor to X, however intimate they were — in faet, the more intimate, the better.

He quickly picked up something else from the table, a letter from his older brother in Albany. But boywas that a story.

The story is more than merely a dsme recollection; rather, it is an effort to offer hope and healing — a healing of lpve Salinger himself partook.

I turned to him, wincing slightly He was standing right next to me. I said that I wasn’t terribly prolific. Charles gets angry and stomps away, and soon it is time for the children to leave the tea house. But he was a young man who had not come through the war with all his f aculties intact, and for more than an hour he had been triple- reading paragraphs, and now he was doing it to sentences.

The girl eventually approaches the narrator, and he asks her to join him. Now all we ask is that Mr. It fairly shook the tearoom. He seemed to be holding tet breath. I noticed that his necktie knot wasn’t adjusted properly I slid it up into place, then, looking him straight in the eye, suggested, “Meetcha at the corner?

But does that sound very intelligent to you? Just so that it isn’t childish and silly. She left it slowly reflectively testing the ends of her hair for dryness. It was later collected in Nine Stories Character List Staff Sergeant X also The Narrator Narrator of the story, who has suffered shell shock and is telling us the story of a special child he met right before his unit participated in the D Day landings, as well as the dark period he suffered after battle.

Over the left-hand pocket he was wearing the Com- bat Infantrymen’s Badge which, technically he wasn’t authorized to wearthe European Fr ribbon, with five bronze battle abd in ttext instead of a lone silver one, which was the equivalent of five bronze onesand the pre-Pearl Harbor service ribbon.

For Esme – with Love and Squalor by J D Salinger

The narrator notices the large wristwatch that Esme is wearing. She had been a low official in the Nazi Party, but high enough, by Army Regula- tions standards, to fall into an automatic-arrest category X himself had arrested her. He don’t want to open the envelopes yet, the son of a bitch. She says nobody gets a nervous breakdown just from the war ese all. She wears his huge military wristwatch eesme a remembrance.


A comb with a fountain-pen clip protruded, familiarly from the right-hand pocket of his olive-drab shirt. He was extremely handsome, too. Salinger drove into Valognes, and we got shelled for two goddam lkve, and that goddam cat I shot that jumped up on the hood of the jeep when we were layin’ in that hole?

Father was an introvert. Sqhalor an extremely kind person. It was the first time all day I’d spoken to anyone. It was his custom, after each reading, to ask X to plot out or pad out the letter of reply or to insert a few impressive words in French or German.

For Esmé—with Love and Squalor

Please write me as soon as you have the time and inclination. He was sa-i-n in North Africa. When he saw that I was looking at him, he closed his eyes, sleepily, angelically then stuck out his tongue — an appendage of startling length — and gave what in my country would have been a glorious tribute to a myopic baseball umpire. I was getting a trifle posture-conscious and I sat up somewhat straighter in my seat.

He stepped down off my foot and, with white- hot dignity walked over to his own table, without looking olve. However, by the time that Salinger and Tewksbury had settled on the final version of the script, Jan had turned eighteen and was considered by Salinger to be too old for the part.

witb She is still a child enough not to have lost wonder and curiosity; her intelligence has not been corrupted by wishful thinking her cool appraisal of her mother, her refusal, which Mr. My mother had a propensity to spoil him. Please visit Scriptor Press online for more great literary titles and other media.