It is apparent through out the work of J. Salinger that he is a practicing Zen Buddhist. Zen is a form of Buddhism in which enlightenment is sought through intuition. Salinger believes in the equilibrium between good and bad and incorporates his beliefs into his writing. Throughout his work Salinger uses little girls to signal a Zen moment. The little girls represent innocence and purity, the epitome of Zen. .
The first time Salinger uses a little girl to signal a Zen moment takes place in his novel Franny and Zooey. Zooey is reading a letter from his brother Buddy in which Buddy rambles on and on about the path Zooey should take in life. In the letter Buddy writes how at the meat counter of the supermarket he saw a pretty little girl waiting with her mother. He continues by writing that he asked the little girl how many boyfriends she had and what their names were. She responded "in a piercing voice "Bobby and Dorothy"" (p.64). This is a Zen moment because the little girl who is so innocent and pure cannot distinguish the difference between boys and girls. The little girl had been so immersed in the moment that she knew the answer with out even thinking about it, which is the essence of Zen Buddhism.
Another instance in which Salinger uses little girls to signal a moment of Zen occurs in the middle of the novel Franny and Zooey. Franny is sleeping on the couch in the darkness of the living room. As she is lying there asleep, the sun shines in on her through the window and captures her beauty. "And here at the couch, it should be mentioned, the sun, for all its ungraciousness to the rest of the room, was behaving beautifully" (p.123). This is a perfect example of Zen because the sun is capturing Franny's beauty and innocence while she sleeps. Franny is not a little girl, however, she still represents innocence and purity, which are the essence of Zen. .
The next instance in which Salinger uses a little girl to signal a Zen moment occurs near the end of the novel Franny and Zooey.