Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature

Committee Chair

Olivia Carr Edenfield

Committee Member 1

Joe Pellegrino

Committee Member 2

Bradley Edwards

Committee Member 3

Brad McDuffie

Committee Member 3 Email



After World War II, spiritual and emotional healing was needed in America, despite a dependence upon materialism and conspicuous consumption for success. J.D. Salinger’s short-story cycle, Nine Stories (1953), explores what loss and trauma look like from all sides of war—mother, child, soldier, lover—all are harmed by war. Nine Stories emphasizes the need for nationwide spiritual healing and suggests that mothers offer the necessary antidote to consumeristic America. In fact, eight of Salinger’s Nine Stories employ one of three types of mothers: the self-serving and ineffectual mother; the spiritual, often surrogate maternal guide; and the ideal mother. While the ineffectual mothers demonstrate the possible future of America in their inability to see beyond the consumeristic value of life, the effectual mothers in the cycle operate as spiritual guides to characters by displaying the possibility of living fulfilled, hopeful lives in materialistic post-war America. The final story is ultimately tied together by the protagonist’s ability to transcend the need for a mother as he comes into the world fully enlightened. A study of mothers in Salinger’s Nine Stories provides a new antidote for materialistic society through the healing power of the ideal mother who represents maternal grace.

Research Data and Supplementary Material