Were you really that sad the day you saw forty-three sunsets?" But the little prince did not answer.
The rock bible The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 by J. D. Salinger. Two years later, in 1953, Salinger published Nine Stories, a collection of short stories. One of the representative works is the Story to Esme. Beneath the novel's austere title, a strange and wistful subtitle floats like a reflection in the water of the title, "With Love and Sorrow," which gives the effect of crushing the title.
The story begins with the wedding invitation of Esme, a British girl. The blessing of the wedding is not taken for granted. Instead, the protagonist of the novel says: "At this moment, no one wants to make others happy, not only do not want to make others happy, but also have the heart to give him some enlightenment and enlightenment." The words were so abrupt and caustic that they belie the mellow, high-pitched harmonium of the wedding church and resemble the shrill vocals of glam rock. Which makes you wonder, what did he offer Esme?
The story opens in the "quiet Fifties", the post-World War II era when people lost everything. And after this small, unexpected and crisp opening, the novel cuts straight into a long memory, which seems to be exactly what he is offering Esme. The amazing thing is that these long memories, which seem like a lifetime, only add up to 30 minutes when they happened six years ago. Then, what is it that makes this short time and space occupy people's mind as long as an early impressionist painting? Perhaps, can be used in "The Adventure of Sheep" in the "with everyone sleep, live to 25, and then die of the girl" said to "me" to explain: "hey, don't you think ten years is like forever?
What did "I" offer Esme?
"I" is far less rebellious than Holden Caulfield, the anti-hero of The Catcher in the Rye. That was the Beat generation of post-war youth. "I" was a witness to that devastating war. I was living proof that the war was very, very real. And successfully exaggerates the violence, bloodshed and crime inherent in human character like a brilliant cartoon.
"I" was a man before the war, a soldier during the war, and still a man after the war. To this day, though, I am told that I wear my hat exactly the way I do: with the sides slightly pulled down over my ears. But how much difference does that make? At best, an ordinary man with a unique mind. What is sought is nothing more than the ordinary life of the common man, that is to say, the personal life. And that is one of the things that war deprived.
War is a whirlpool, the world is a maelstrom. People are in fact always on the edge of life and death, constantly deprived of the existence around them. The war greatly accelerated the process, that's all. Then look at Esme's last words: "Goodbye, and I hope that when you come home after the war, you will retain all your talents." That's why I feel so moved. What an easy and difficult step to take to fulfill Esme's expectations. From here the novel turns to its most tragic and moving part.
The I disappears in this part, and the hero becomes Sergeant X, with the unmistakable post-war me. The author said he wrote the story because "the place has changed and the characters have changed." In this understatement of the appearance, deeply hidden "I" psychological changes of pain. During war, people are dependent. Unwise and unreliable though it is, there is something almost insane that drives him to fight. And at the end of it all, the bleak, barren, almost absurd landscape of nothingness that followed the eruption of the volcano was the image of his heart. Thus, "I" became "Sergeant X", mentally exhausted.
What do you offer Esme? Who is Esme? Is she really that 13-year-old girl who's tired of choir?
Esme is described as a precocious young girl who was killed by her father in North Africa. She looks after her younger brother and talks to "me" as an adult. She reminded him of the flower he fell in love with in the Little Prince. She innocently displays her four thorns, the only four she has to protect her against the world. Esme is eager to communicate with others, but her simple and sensitive heart is wary of being hurt. However, this image is only the shell of Esme.
Why her smile was "strange, like a wave on her face." ? Why did "I" feel melancholy and flustered at the time of parting after a brief conversation? Clearly, this is the essence of Esme.
She is the memory of one's youth, the utopia that exists in one's heart. She is the fleeting moments of life, the tiny joys of life that burn faintly in the dark like distant stars. She is Esme, the mulberry that falls into the palm of your hand at the end of life's journey, the Sunday Morning of the velvet underground, the light on the threshold that shows the direction of home. Is The Beatles gently swept guitar strings, the heart forever strawberry field. When I could feel Esme's fingers, nothing could hurt me.
The encounter between "I" and Esme is like Esme's brother's recurring riddle: "What does this wall say to that wall?" The answer is "Meet me in the corner!"
It's as simple as that. They didn't know each other before this date, and then they almost lost touch with each other. One was a young girl of thirteen, and the other a soldier who had indeed seen the battle of his life. However, it turned out to be the summit meeting of their lives.
Children lose their fathers to war, soldiers face D-Day landings. On the eve of victory, the two of them form a meeting point, revealing the full pathos of life. However, I am afraid that neither "I" nor Esme realized the meaning of these few minutes in this brief intercourse. Esme even lamented, with a girlish romance, "Is it not a pity that we could not have met under worse circumstances?"
But when the war finally ended, and both men had lived miserable lives without the knowledge of the other, I turned to the inscription on the book: "Dear God, life is hell." Impulsively, I wrote: "Teachers, I have considered the question of what hell is. I firmly believe that it is suffering from an inability to love." Despair is a deep well of the heart. When a man's faith is shattered, lost the ability to love, this deep well in his side to reveal its ferocious face.
Esme had a huge watch from her father. "I" joked, "Maybe I should suggest she wear it on her waist." This watch appears five times in the article. Before the "tragic and moving part", it undoubtedly symbolizes Esme's memory of her father. However, at the end of the article the watch, which had been broken by forwarding multiple watches, apparently exceeded this significance.
It is both Esme's heart and Me's heart.
The Esme siblings transferred the memory of their father to the memory of "me," even though "I" was a strange soldier. But the watch, which is to say, Esme's heart, details the time they spent together between 3:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. on April 30, 1944. But because of the war, the suffering brother and sister did not receive "I" half a word, table can also be said to represent the whole novel 2/3, that is, the long and short memories.
At the end of the article, whether people's hearts or good memories are fragile in the face of reality. "He didn't have the courage to put it to the test." But "felt a kind of almost ecstasy." "Sergeant X", the "me" after the war, could not face the fragmentation of memories but was deeply addicted to it. And all he had to offer Esme after all the deprivation of war was memories.
It is strange that the novel, in contrast to its connotation, adopts a brisk and humorous pace. This is purely Salinger's originality, and it is the author's technical vitality. As Van Gogh said to Gauguin: "The fields that make the crops grow upward, the water that runs in the deep valley, the juice of the grapes and the life that seems to flow through a man are all the same thing, the same thing. The only consistency in life is consistency in pace." However, Van Gogh showed the hard core of pain and the powerful outpouring of life, while Salinger focuses on the external emotional changes caused by pain and the sadness when life tends to be static. For accordingly, it adopts his own rhythm, which is also consistent with all things.
There are many metaphors in the article. The girl fingered the little boy's hat as if it were a specimen in a laboratory. He leaned over the table and felt pain from head to foot, as if all the pains were connected. It's like a Christmas tree. If one light bulb goes wrong, all the lights and wires go wrong." These excellent metaphors undoubtedly enhance the rhythmic appeal.
The whole novel is infused with a subtle wetness. It is like Wang Zengqi facing the mood of the frame full of woody flowers after the rain. "There are few pedestrians outside the lotus pond, and the wild shop moss is one inch deep. A cup of liquor day after noon, woody flowers wet rain." Man in the lonely zone between existence and disappearance. But what kind of flower is it?
It is said in Secret History that "Beauty is terrible." The beauty of "A Story for Esme" rises from the little cruelties of life.
Rollin told Van Gogh: "God seems to become more and more difficult to believe as the years go by. God is still there in the twilight of your cornfield or Montmeger... And yet..." God, too, is present in "Tales for Esme," but he is not the god of majesty or mercy, but a human memory of the years of youth. This moving story will live on even after the writer and the listener have both passed away.
"The black birds filled the sky, darkened the sun, and covered Vincent with a thick night, running down his hair, his eyes, his nose, and his mouth, burying him in a thick, black, air-tight cloud of flapping wings." In this poignant scene, Van Gogh completed his last masterpiece, Raven in the Rye, before committing suicide. "You can't paint a goodbye." However, Raven in The Rye is Van Gogh's farewell to life, just as Black Bird is The Beatles' tears to the world, and A Story for Esme is Salinger's farewell.
Farewell, is to say goodbye to the other half of your soul.
It can be drawn, sung, and written.
It must have been a sad day to see forty-three sunsets. How similar is the twilight of nature to the twilight of life! "A Story for Esme", like the light of the setting sun on the wounds of life, lasts only thirty minutes.
But remember the oft-quoted sentence.
"There are moods you never understand, and five minutes later, it's a completely different mood.
Many things in life, you miss an hour, it is likely to miss a lifetime.