Anda di halaman 1dari 4

Hon Wei Khor

E57X Analytical Essay: The Laughing Man

The Laughing Gedsuski Storytelling is an ancient form of art which is mastered by the same people who are skilled in improvisation. A good storyteller knows how to tell an interesting one, and often draws from his own life experiences to sculpt his storys plot. In fact, a story can sometimes tell us a fair bit about an authors own thoughts and emotions at certain points of his life, perhaps even better than he could if directly set to accomplish such an endeavor. Today, most of our

stories take the form of books that authors spent significant time writing and revising(usually). Thus, modern storytelling is much less reliant on improvisation. Some of these authors take advantage of the past of storytelling, and write stories about storytellers, thus creating storieswithin-stories. One example of these storytellers in stories is Scheherazade, the queen in

Arabian Nights who tells her husband countless stories in order to delay her own execution. Much like how spoken stories can sometimes reveal background information about the narrator, the secondary, or inner story in a story-within-a-story usually reveals a lot about characters in the first-level story(Probably because the author wants us to). JD Salingers The Laughing Man uses this exact tool. JD Salingers short story, The Laughing Man illustrates a young mans journey into manhood and twenty-five young teens sharing of that experience through storytelling. A

college student, John Gedsuski, experiences the joys of a loving relationship and the pains of a seemingly abrupt end to his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Mary Hudson. Through telling the story of a bandit called The Laughing Man, John conveys his feelings to a group of young nave children who learn and develop emotionally alongside John.

Hon Wei Khor

E57X Analytical Essay: The Laughing Man

The Laughing Man is a story from the point of view of a narrator reliving one of his most memorable childhood experiences. The narrator, along with twenty-four other children, was part of a club called the Comanche Club. Their leader was John Gedsuski, a NYU law student in his early 20s, whom they called the Chief. The Chief was not only a babysitter for the children, but a teacher as well. Besides bringing the children to the park and playing games with them, the Chief also told the children the story of The Laughing Man every once in a while. The Laughing Man was a story about a bandit with such a horrible facial disfiguration that he needed to wear a mask at all times and was only able to befriend animals. The Chief, too, wasnt exactly a very handsome man(even though the narrator had thought so as a child), and had few friends among his peers; the Comanches were nearly the only friends that he had. As he grew up, the Laughing Man quickly learned many skills which helped make him one of the most brilliant bandits in the countryside. Likewise, the Chief was a man of many achievements and virtues, having been an Eagle scout, invited to try out for the New York Giants, a fire builder and extinguisher, expertly trained in first-aid, among many other skills. Over time, the nave Comanches developed a strong emotional bond with their hero, the Laughing Man. Each of the children saw himself as a descendent of the Laughing Man. One day, the Chief introduced the Comanches to Mary Hudson, who was his girlfriend at the time. For a while, the Comanches and the Chief continued their routine of playing sports and listening to the Chiefs latest installments of the Laughing Man, sometimes with Mary, who earned the friendship of the originally apprehensive Comanches with her skill in playing baseball. Several months after Mary had first met the Comanches, the Chief ended an installment of the Laughing Man on an ominous cliffhanger in which the Laughing Man was caught in a death-trap with seemingly no visible way out. Shortly after, in the middle of a Comanche Club baseball game,

Hon Wei Khor

E57X Analytical Essay: The Laughing Man

the narrator observes the Chief and Mary arguing and, unbeknownst to the young child, breaking up. Shortly after the breakup came the final installment of the Laughing Man, in which the childrens beloved hero dies. Its not too hard to understand how the Laughing Man can be seen as a large metaphor for the Chiefs life as a young adult. Salingers story first illustrates both the joys of being a free, untethered person and the happiness of consensual love and infatuation. Before Marys

appearance, the Chief had been leading a casual, fun, and carefree life. The Laughing Man was a benign entity who did not care for material wealth and had exciting, almost wacky, adventures with his comrades. The children, too, were happy and had no worries during this time period. When Mary regularly joined the Comanches for games and presumably started dating the Chief, the Chief was overfilled with joy, and the Comanches expressed that they, too, enjoyed her company. Salinger then shows the readers a struggling stage in a previously loving relationship which is turning sour. Right before the Chief and Marys breakup, it began to appear as if the plot of the Laughing Man depended on her relationship with the Chief. Specifically, in the penultimate installment of the Laughing Man, the Laughing Man was trapped in an inescapable position. This represented the dire status of the relationship between the Chief and Mary. This was also reflected by the Chiefs implied frustration at the time, when he told the Comanches, Lets have a little quite in this damn bus. Even though the Laughing Man was trapped in such a precarious situation, the Comanches failed to see any cause for worry, as they were thinking about their fictional hero, who had previously escaped from much worse positions. As a result, none of them realized that the Chief was truly preoccupied with thoughts about Mary.

Hon Wei Khor

E57X Analytical Essay: The Laughing Man

Finally, Salinger demonstrates the bitter and sad end to a relationship with the Chief and Marys fallout. The final installment of the Laughing Man took place after the breakup, and represented the end of the relationship between the Chief and Mary. This part of the story was what led to the events in the last installment of the Laughing Man. When Mary ran away from the Chief, he was so grieve stricken that he felt Even though none of the Comanches had ever before cried for the Laughing Man, a few of them burst into tears. All of them were quite shaken. Their seemingly invincible hero died. At this moment, the Chief was able to get the Comanches to sympathize with his own woe for his breakup with Mary. It is in this scene that the Comanches gain a small understanding that life isnt one long joyride, and the Chief matures into adulthood when he decides to end the Laughing Man, which was in a sense his fantasy escape from the real world. Thus, we see that JD Salingers The Laughing Man is much more than a story about a young mans relationship with a young woman. Rather, it is about the turning point in a young mans life when he ceases to be a young adult and becomes an adult. In addition, even though he was emotionally destroyed by the breakup, the Chief feels obligated to continue his job of teaching the Comanches. He does this by ending the story of the Laughing Man and letting the children feel a small disappointment at an early age, rather than letting them live on longer as nave younglings, as he did.