J. D. Salinger's The Laughing Man

501 Words3 Pages
J.D. Salinger often works around the mannerisms of child-like and adult-like people; “The Laughing Man” is no exception to this pattern. There are many examples that correspond with this rule of his in the short story “The Laughing Man”. One of the instances of this template is the poppy-petal mask of the Laughing Man. The poppy-petal mask in “The Laughing Man” represents the advancement from childish characteristics to adult-like ones. The poppy-petal mask is created by the Chinese bandits that adopted the Laughing Man; the original purpose of this mask is to hide the true face of the Laughing Man due to his extreme deformities (Salinger 59). This mask is made of poppy petals and is described with “reeked of opium” (Salinger 59), therefore,…show more content…
Since the Chief expresses himself in the character the Laughing Man, he shares many qualities with him, such as the child-like nature and his dynamic progression. At the beginning of the story the Chief is child-like just like the Laughing Man is. As certain series of events unfold, the Chief becomes less of a happy child-like character and he changes into more of an adult-like one. After the knowledge of Mary’s pregnancy, the Chief is forced to face the adult world and “push off his mask” (Salinger 68). The Chief expresses this sad progression through his installments of the Laughing Man’s fictional story. Much like the Laughing Man, the Chief morphs from a childish happiness, to an adult realism. Throughout this story there are many reminders of these two characters’ dynamic progressions. The poppy-petal mask showcases their transition from child-like to adult-like throughout the story. This story focuses on the fact that the characters are faced with the unfortunate force of making this devastating switch of personalities, and it is all captured by a simple head ornament. At the beginning of this story, these two men start out as happy and wistful personalities, but come out with sober and negative
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