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Salinger , completed on November 22, , and originally published in the January 31, , issue of The New Yorker. Salinger wrote "Teddy" while he was arranging publication for a number of his short stories and crafted the story to balance and contrast the collections' intended opening work " A Perfect Day for Bananafish ".


In Salinger's novella, " Seymour: An Introduction ", a meditation written by a member of the fictional Glass family, Buddy Glass writes about his brother, Seymour , where Buddy claims authorship to "Teddy" as well as other pieces in Nine Stories. The story comprises several vignettes which take place aboard a luxury liner. The events occur roughly between and am on October 28, Teddy is Theodore "Teddy" McArdle, a year-old mystic-savant returning home to America with his entertainer-socialite parents and his younger sister.

As part of their tour of Great Britain , Teddy has been interviewed as an academic curiosity by professors of religious and philosophical studies - the "Leidekker examining group" - from various European universities in order to test his claims of advanced spiritual enlightenment. The first scene opens in the McArdles' stateroom. McArdle, apparently hung-over, is attempting to verbally assert control over his son; Mrs. Responding to his parents' outbursts impassively, he contemplates the nature of existence and physical permanence while observing fragments of orange peel that have been discarded overboard.

“Nine Stories,” J. D. Salinger

The concepts that the preternatural child ponders are evidently derived from Zen and Vedantic religious philosophy, and suggest that Teddy possesses advanced enlightenment or God-consciousness. When Teddy conveys his spiritual insights to his father and mother, they interpret them merely as the products of his precociousness, eliciting annoyance or indifference from the adults.

As he departs, Teddy delivers a short, cryptic caveat to his parents, informing them that they may never see him again outside the realm of memory. On the Main Deck, Teddy has a brief encounter with one of the ship's female officers, Ensign Mathewson. Forthright and exacting, the boy questions the officer and obtains information about a shipboard word game competition - and disabuses the bemused woman as to her misapprehensions regarding his advanced intellectual development.

Teddy proceeds to the Sport Deck and locates his little sister, Booper, at play with another young passenger. Booper is a domineering and hateful child, contrasting sharply with her older brother's equanimity.

Teddy, with firmness, politely exhorts the girl to return with the camera to the cabin and report to their mother. She submits with bad grace as he departs.

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The final scene takes place on the Sun Deck, where Teddy, reclining on one of his family's reserved deckchairs, reviews his recent diary entries. The document has been conscientiously edited and neatly written. It contains reminders to foster better relations with his father; commentary on a letter from a Professor of Literature; a list of vocabulary words to study and notes on his meditation schedule - all matters of self-improvement.

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It is ridiculous to mention it even. Teddy is interrupted by a passenger named Bob Nicholson, a graduate of an unnamed university, who teaches curriculum and instruction. Nicholson is on a first name basis with the Leidekker group and has listened to a taped interview with Teddy, in which he shows a lurid interest.

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Teddy, in explaining his position on death and reincarnation gives a hypothetical example describing a series of events at his upcoming swimming lesson in which a fatality occurs: his own. Teddy disengages from the interview and hurries to his lesson. Nicholson pursues him through the levels of the ship's decks, and as he begins to descend the stairs to the swimming pool, he hears the scream of "a small, female child" emanating from the enclosed walls of the indoor pool.

The story ends on this ambiguous note. We hope that you do too.

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