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Essay on J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day for Ortgies

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J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day for Bananafish


At first glance, J.D. Salinger's short story 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish' is the story of a psychically-torn war veteran whose post-traumatic stress moves him to take his own life while on a second honeymoon with his wife. Indeed, that is the story, but that first glance does not reveal the inner motives and symbolic pathways Seymour Glass takes to reach the final decision to end his life. The carefully placed details and minute innuendoes are deliberate on Salinger's part, and they represent pieces of the puzzle to find out what is really happening in the protagonist's head. Indeed, 'A Perfect Day' is just one part of the Glass family saga, and Seymour's character and family become even more detailed throughout the other pieces in Salinger's Nine Stories. Regardless, even in this isolated story there are enough hints to flesh his character out from a mere psychotic war veteran into a tragically depicted human bananafish.

An analysis of the short story really has to begin with an analysis of its central character, Seymour Glass, or as Sybil innocently styles him, ?See More Glass.? I have two theories about the significance of Seymour?s name, and they hinge largely on the placement of the quotation marks in Sybil?s version of his name. If we decide that the name should be divided into ?See More? Glass - since his family name is Glass and it could be argued that the word is not significant to every member of the family in the same symbolic way as Seymour - I think the interpretation is very simple. Seymour is a mystical creature, spiritually broken in the war yet still intimately in touch with the metaphorical side of life. Therefore, Seymour merely sees...


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...ymour suggested that Muriel?s grandmother kill herself rather than pass away peacefully: ?Those horrible things he said to Granny about her plans for passing away.? These things weren?t horrible to him since he sees death as a release from the banana hole, but Muriel?s family doesn?t see it like that because it also means a release from the material pleasures they have come to treasure. Before Seymour pulls the trigger to end his own gluttonous suffering he glances over at Muriel lying on the bed, but he no longer sees her as Muriel. In the last paragraph she is referred to twice as ?the girl,? a sign that Seymour has disassociated himself with the world of bananas and is ready to release his soul from bondage. To Seymour it was a perfect day for bananafish, a perfect day to indulge in the pleasures of wealth and idolatry, but for him it was a perfect day to escape.


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