The characters in Salinger?s ?A Perfect Day for Bananafish? seem to exist in opposite worlds. On one hand, Salinger creates Muriel to represent materialism and superficiality and on the other hand, he creates Sybil to provide justification of the child-like innocence rarely found in society. Salinger?s main character, Seymour, is aware of the superficiality expressed in Muriel?s world and chooses not to be apart of it. Seymour wants to be a part of the simple immaterial world that Sybil represents. Nevertheless, Seymour find himself trapped between two worlds unable to regain the one he desires. Therefore, Salinger bases ?A Perfect Day for Bananafish? on Seymour?s disillusionment with life and his inability to regain a child-like perception of the world. Salinger?s portrayals Seymour and his world are described below.
Sybil is composed of all the characteristics Seymour is seeking. She is young, innocent and childlike and therefore not polluted by the materialism, mistrust and snobbery known to society. Furthermore, her actions suggest that she relates to Seymour because he seems to act like a child somewhat similar to herself (for example Sybil feels secure around Seymour but feels insecure when sitting with her own mother). This would imply that Seymour does not appear abnormal to her because she, unlike most, she has the ability to see through his exterior and is not intimidated by what she has found. In the later part of the story she continually repeats the phase ?see more glass?(10) using the term ?glass? to describe her own unique ability to see through the transparency of superficial people (much like her own mother).
What Seymour respects...
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...g that was originally molded to portray the image society would expect of a ?Lady? of her caliber. In turn, it does not seem to matter who Muriel is in Salingers?s story but what she represents.
In conclusion, Seymour is similar to the bananafish as he swam his way up the stream of life ingesting the materialism and superficiality that past him on his journey. Half way up the stream he stopped pondered why he had even bothered in the first place. Now he cannot go back down the stream (to Sybil) against the current and cannot bear to continue (with Muriel). At this point Seymour is described as having ?banana fever? or becoming so engulfed in materialism. His only rational option would be to stay in the banana hole and die.
Salinger, J.D. Nine Stories: A Perfect Day for Bananafish. United States: Little, Brown and Company Limited, 1991.
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