Franny and Zooey: Character Profiles
Professor Brughman Is Lane Coutell’s professor who gave him an “A” on his Flaubert paper.
Wally Campbell is a portrait of a typical eastern college student, a friend of Lane’s, whom he and Franny are supposed to meet at the football game. She objects to him on the grounds that he acts like everyone else.
Lane Coutell is Franny Glass’s boyfriend whom she has been dating for a year. He is nice but somewhat egotistical and vain, wanting Franny’s praise for his term paper on which he received an “A.” Franny is upset with him because he writes papers as an intellectual game, instead of really caring about the topic. He has little sympathy or insight into her spiritual crisis. He is only thinking of their date and later having sex with Franny.
Bessie Glass is the mother of Franny and Zooey. She is an overweight housewife with her hair in a net and cigarettes in her kimono. She still has dancer’s legs from her Vaudevillian days. Always concerned about her children through they are grown, she nags them as though they are still young, but it turns out she feels overprotective since two of her grown sons are dead. Though not learned, she has influence on her children for her ability to understand them.
Buddy Glass is the oldest living brother of Franny and Zooey. He took part in educating them when they were young in eastern philosophy. He is a writer-in-residence at a girl’s school in upstate New York. He is the fictional writer of the story of Franny and Zooey and introduces “Zooey” with a family history. He also includes a letter he wrote to Zooey in the story for the same reason. Buddy finds his family members fascinating and tries to put their portraits on paper in what he calls “home movies.”
Frances (Franny) Glass
Franny is a college senior who quits school during a spiritual crisis and comes home to her parents’ apartment in Manhattan where Zooey, her brother, helps her. She is described as a first-rate beauty and very smart, like all the Glass children. She seems to have everything other college students would want. She has enough money and brains to hang out with the most prestigious East Coast crowd. She has professors she despises as phonies but whom other people see as brilliant. She has a handsome, intelligent boyfriend, Lane Coutell. She is a talented actress who gets the leads in the plays and has played summer stock theater. Dissatisfied, however, she takes up Christian mysticism to find meaning in her life believing she must reject the world and repeat the Jesus prayer she read about in The Way of a Pilgrim.
Les Glass is the father of Franny and Zooey, whom his wife describes as afraid of confronting facts. He is Jewish and was a Vaudeville performer with his wife. He tries to help Franny cheer up by playing old Vaudeville tunes on the piano and offering her a tangerine.
Seymour Glass was the eldest Glass son who became a spiritual seeker and poet. Oversensitive, he committed suicide on vacation with his wife, Muriel. Seymour’s teaching and guidance for the rest of the children still dominate their lives. He is the family saint and enigma. Zooey calls him a ghost in the house but goes to Seymour’s room to find an answer to help Franny. He remembers one of Seymour’s parables (The Fat Lady) that allows both he and Franny to grow.
Waker Glass is a Catholic priest in Ecuador. Mrs. Glass considers calling him to talk to Franny but complains that Waker is so tender, he cries about everything. His twin brother, Walt, was killed in World War II.
Zachary Martin (Zooey) Glass
Zooey is twenty-five and a handsome, successful TV actor, but still living at home with his parents. He calls himself and Franny “freaks” of Buddy’s and Seymour’s education in eastern mysticism when they were small. Zooey is still influenced apparently by Zen Buddhism and abstains from alcohol, meditates, and has mystical experiences occasionally, like his meeting with Jesus when he was a child. Zooey, like Franny, is upset with himself for being too critical of others. He is a genius and was tested by psychologists when he was twelve. Underneath his sarcastic exterior, he is as soft and vulnerable as the other Glass children. He has an ulcer from the stress of his work acting in inferior plays written for TV.
Dick Hess is a Midwestern playwright who meets Zooey at the Village to discuss a play he wants Zooey to do. Zooey insults him by telling him the truth about what he thinks of it.
Mr. LeSage is a TV producer and Zooey’s boss who gives him a badly written script to read and possibly to act for a TV drama.
Professors Manlius and Esposito
Professors Manlius and Esposito are Franny’s English professors, who are published poets. She rejects their poetry as false and depressing.
Ray Sorenson is a student in Lane Coutell’s Modern European Literature class who asks Lane about the meaning of Rilke. Lane dislikes him because he represents a certain kind of languid ivy league student not really interested in intellectual topics but probably in college for social reasons.
Professor Tupper is Franny’s Religion seminar teacher “on lend-lease from Oxford” whom she thinks hates her. She picks on him in class for being a “self-satisfied phony,” who drops hints that “he’s a Realized Man” (p. 127).