The Burrow examines fear-based isolation of a mole-like creature living all alone in his underground burrow. The only connection with others is fear-based taking, taking by claws and teeth. You are either the diner or dinner, never a guest or host. You are alone but not independent because fear eats your life possibilities independence could give. You are your own worst enemy.
Josephine the Singer features love-based giving through art, Kafka's last word on the purpose of art. Like a loving parent giving to her child, the artist mouse Josephine attempts to inspire independent individuality in other mice in the colony through the example of her unique and spontaneous singing. This she gives free of charge. Because of fear of survival stoked by the colony leadership, the rest of the mouse collective hears her singing as a mouse but not as an individual. They remain in fear-based group think with reduced life possibilities.
In both stories, the issue is the effect of fear or love on independent individual identity and life possibilities. For Kafka, this was the uber human issue as he prepared to meet his maker.
The Hindu connection structures what happens to Holden in Catcher, and fast as take out Zen structures what happens to Franny in Franny and Zooey. Principal tenants of Kabbalah influence and structure important aspects of the story Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, particularly the lack of civil reception of “others” at the wedding reception. These choices were no doubt influenced by Salinger’s experiments with different forms of spirituality.
Salinger apparently came to the conclusion that your spiritual soul lies in your individual identity, a conclusion Joyce and others had reached earlier from connection with Eastern Spirituality. Direct versions of Jesus and Buddha dwell within you just waiting to be discovered. You don’t need an escort.
For many young readers in the 20th century, these stories made up the New Testament, the new gospel as to what was important in life values. Read here how and why they were so powerful.