Bring Me Back to Life

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For Esmé - With Love and Squalor
By J. D. Salinger

Questions About Youth:

1. Why is the narrator so taken by Esme? What is it about her character that fascinates him? 2. Youth is often depicted as a time of folly and poor judgment, but not here. How does Salinger characterize youth in this story? 3. In your opinion, what are the narrator’s feelings with regards to youth and childhood? 4. The narrator himself is a young man – how do you view his development of the course of the story?

“The strength, innocence, and resilience of childhood are the only things that can counteract the horrors of war in “For Esmé – With Love and Squalor.”

1. I believe Esmé takes the narrator aback due to her strikingly impressionable persona, along with her prodigious maturity and innocence. Taking into consideration lack of purity and innocence in the adult world, and love of childhood itself is some of the primary themes within this particular story, I believe that her adolescent candidness is what initially draws Sergeant X to Esmé. “Her voice was distinctly separate from the other children’s voices…the sweetest-sounding, the surest, and it automatically led the way.” Her ability to stand out from the rest of the children primarily caught Sergeant X’s attention; his attention to her pure independence had begun his love for her. As well, I feel as if she represented the characteristics; loss, fear, and hope which were notable results of the War. Esmé exemplified a balance between positive and negative, she embodied a hopeful future; a sign that the bad things shall pass. 2. Youth in regards to For Esmé - With Love and Squalor is depicted as a time of premature advancement, a time where the innocence of youth had been stolen by the pure destruction of the war. With her advanced vocabulary and maternal skills far beyond her years, Esmé illustrates an exceptionally mature young woman. I believe this coincides with the time and place, during...
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