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Salinger and Snicket

Lemony Snicket and J. D. Salinger have a lot of connections between their work.



The book above may not look familiar. But perhaps if you only pay attention to the title, you will see what I want you to notice. The title, For Esmé-with Love & Squalor, may remind you of another book you may have read. Or maybe you watched the show. Anyway, the point I'm trying to get to is that Lemony Snicket took the name of Esmé Squalor (a character in A Series of Unfortunate Events) from the title of this short story.


If you did not already know, Esmé Squalor cares about what's fashionable. In fact, her whole world revolves around what's "in" or not. She's very full of herself and rich, but you will not see the same character reflected in Esmé from J. D. Salinger's stories. Not the thirteen year old Esmé from that story.


I guess I'd better tell you the whole thing. In the story, it's being narrated by a man in war who met this girl and they talked. She was an orphan, along with her brother, and when the man was in war she sent him a watch to remind him of her and just as a gift. That action, in and of itself, helped heal the soldier, who was experiencing trauma and distress. Now, I don't think the two Esmés are anything alike, and I think you'll agree with me.


What I do recognize, though, is the idea that adults don't know what they are doing, and can barely take care of themselves, let alone others. Maybe this one story in particular doesn't show any of that, but some of Salinger's stories do, and I know Snicket most definitely shows this. First think about Mr. Poe, the man in charge of Orphan Affairs at the bank. He can't help the Baudelaires because he doesn't believe them when they say something bad is going to happen.


Oh, wait! I didn't tell you the story about the Baudelaire orphans. I'd better do that now. So, there are these three children, and they recieve the news of their parents' deaths due to a fire. They then go into the care of Count Olaf, who they realize is trying to steal their money. Throughout the series, they move from house to house, place to place, and he keeps chasing after them. Along the way, they discover a secret organization called VFD, and it leaves everyone wondering about everything.


Speaking of VFD, I should point out that even though it's a noble cause, they just didn't put the organization together right, resulting in many errors and mistakes, and supporting my idea that Snicket is trying to tell us that adults are messing things up. If you don't agree with my theories, that's okay, I just wanted to put all of that information out there, because there are some valuable connections between Snicket and Salinger.

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