Cross-Country, a Memoir of France, Interlude: Normandy, 1944

From a fox-hole, Salinger weighs in

Among those landing at Utah Beach on D-Day, 1944, was a young staff sergeant from New York City, Jerome David Salinger. In his 1945 short story “A Boy in France,” J.D. Salinger describes the reflections of an American soldier finding refuge under a filthy blanket in a dirty fox-hole previously occupied by a German soldier, probably dead:

“When I take my hand out of this blanket,” he thought, “my nail will be grown back, my hands will be clean. My body will be clean. I’ll have on clean shorts, clean undershirt, a white shirt. A blue polka-dot tie. A gray suit with a stripe, and I’ll be home, and I’ll bolt the door. I’ll put some coffee on the stove, some records on the phonograph, and I’ll bolt the door. I’ll read my books and I’ll drink the hot coffee and I’ll listen to the music, and I’ll bolt the door. I’ll open the window, I’ll let in a nice, quiet girl — not Frances, not anyone I’ve ever known — and I’ll bolt the door. I’ll ask her to walk a little bit in the room by herself, and I’ll look at her American ankles, and I’ll bolt the door. I’ll ask her to read some Emily Dickenson to me — that one about being chartless — and I’ll ask her to read some William Blake to me — that one about the little lamb who made thee — and I’ll bolt the door. She’ll have an American voice, and she won’t ask me if I have any chewing gum or bonbons, and I’ll bolt the door.”

From “J.D. Salinger,” Uncollected short stories, Volume 1.

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