Down at the Dinghy

Down at the Dinghy

"Down at the Dinghy" is a short story by J. D. Salinger, originally published in Harper's in April 1949, and included in the compilation, Nine Stories.[1] It is arguably the least dramatic story in the Glass family saga. It is told in two distinct segments, the first being a discussion between two house servants about a little boy who is trying to run away, and the second being the mother's intervention.

Contents

Plot summary

It features the first daughter of the Glass Family, Beatrice "Boo Boo" Glass. The story opens with the two house servants, Mrs. Snell and Sandra, discussing Boo Boo's young son, Lionel. Sandra is also very worried that Lionel will tell Boo Boo something that she said. The reader finds Lionel has a penchant for running away. When Boo Boo returns she chats with the servants for a while and then goes down to the pier. She finds Lionel in a dinghy preparing to cast off. Boo Boo pretends to be admiral of the imaginary ship in order to win Lionel over and discover why he is trying to run away.[2] He resists, even going so far as to throw his uncle Seymour's old goggles into the lake.

Lionel tells Boo Boo that Sandra called his father a "big sloppy kike". While he doesn't know what this ethnic slur means, defining it as a kite when asked the meaning of the word from his mother, he picks up on its derogatory nature. Boo Boo attempts to comfort him. At the end of the story, they race across the beach toward home, and Lionel wins.

Characters

  • Boo Boo: Many allusions are made to Boo Boo throughout the Glass saga, although she is rarely encountered in any of the other stories, such as Franny and Zooey, or Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. She is referred to as the perpetual matron of the family, and this story brings this to the forefront.
  • Lionel: This is the only story in which Lionel appears or is even mentioned.
  • Uncle Webb: Referred to by Boo Boo when Lionel kicked goggles into the lake. Boo Boo told Lionel, her son, that the goggles belong to his Uncle Webb and that they once belonged to his Uncle Seymour. Salinger's Uncle Webb reference is odd because in _Franny and Zooey_ Salinger defines the seven Glass siblings as Seymour, Buddy, Boo Boo, Walt, Walker, Zooey, and Franny.

Related works

Other Glass Family stories include:

References

  1. ^ Salinger, J.D. Nine Stories. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.1953.
  2. ^ Sublette, JR. The Admiral and Her Sailor in Salinger's 'Down at the Dinghy.'” Studies in Short FictionSpring, 1967, pp. 217-224.

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