INFP authors are known for their strong narrative voice, their tendency to self-insert into their stories, and their firmness in deciding what they want for themselves. This is Jerry Salinger. He has such strong opinions on everything that his college literary professor tells him if he does not dial back his “author’s voice,” it will drown out the characters. His decisions are final and absolute, with no room for negotiation; when a magazine wants him to make changes to his story before they will publish it, he says no; when his professor asks him to write something for his struggling magazine, after he has become famous, he says no; when others press him to write, when he doesn’t feel like it, he says no; he will not forgive an insult for years, until he feels it is time to do so. His deep cynicism eventually leads him to become an embittered hermit, irritated that others have ‘taken over’ his character and misconstrued The Catcher in the Rye. He chooses then only to write for himself, and to focus on being there for his family, without needing to share his work with anyone else. Jerry has a large imagination and focuses mostly on writing; he wants to be a famous author, even though his father is skeptical about his ability to succeed. Though he dabbles in writing short stories, he’s willing to commit to a book—as a way to escape the horrors of war while he is in the trenches. But then he’s unable to return to that novel for several years, because each time he opens it, he remembers all the horrific things he saw. War ruins him, because he was so emotional and idealistic. He wanted to believe in something greater than himself, and instead, just saw his friends being blown apart. Jerry is naïve and idealistic, which is why he writes with such a cynical tone – it’s easy to be angry about the world not being perfect, when you could see how it could be so much better! But he escaped from its horrors into his mind, where a host of lively characters live. He draws mainly from his own life experiences to write his stories rather than pulling from abstract imagination; he finds it hard to move on from his losses in the war, and doesn’t like to talk about his battle experiences, as he suffers from PTSD. It’s only when he takes up the abstract calming method of meditation and Buddhism that he is able to return to writing and his ideas flow once more. His inferior Te shows in how he only actively works for what he wants, and doesn’t feel the need to negotiate, even if it would create financial advantages or help bring him greater fame; he can be sharp-tongued and arrogant.
Enneagram: 4w5 sp/so
Enneagram 4s tend to focus on what is wrong more than on what is right, as frustration-driven types; they refuse to filter their emotional experiences or move away from their negative emotions. Often, the creative 4 ties themselves into knots in an attempt to over-individuate through their creativity (making it “me”). This is something Jerry struggles with—his bluntness in articulating his opinions freely, without caring what anyone else thinks or says or how they will react to him. When the professor who eventually will become his best friend and mentor asks him why he isn’t paying attention in class, Jerry responds that he would, if it weren’t so boring. He struggles to figure out how to give his stories a ‘voice’ without over-inserting himself into them. Many of his criticisms say that his “attempts to be clever on every page” are overpowering the narrative. He makes Holden Caulfield an extension of himself—wary, cynical, and elitist, in his constant complaining about how other people are basic and boring. Rather than be turned off when a woman tells him she disliked his book and thought it was pretentous, Jerry asks her for her phone number—because she was “real” with him. He doesn’t like fakery, flattery, or anything inauthentic. When a publisher wants him to give Holden a happy ending in a short story, he refuses because “life doesn’t work out, and not everyone gets the girl.” His 5 wing shows early in how withdrawn he is, preferring to live in his head rather than engage with the world, but also deeply private. He hates anyone knowing anything about him, doesn’t want to do publicity for his book, and winds up living as a hermit in the woods—where he shuts himself away from his wife and child, sometimes for a week at a time (she angrily tells him that since she knows no one, and has no local friends, it’s not kind or fair for him to ignore her for days on end). He stops writing entirely for public consumption, in order to focus more on his family and his meditation. This, in part, shows his growth out of 4’s self-centeredness into his line to 1, which is to become more intentional in what he does, and considerate of others’ needs.