A Perfect Day For Bananafish Essay

1502 words - 6 pages

In the novel Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk remarks, “The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything.” Jerome David Salinger expanded on this idea through writing the short story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish". The literary genius was born on January 1, 1919 in New York City. He earned his education from public schools in the West Side of Manhattan and after moving, from McBurney School where he wrote for the school's newspaper and was manager of the fencing team. In 1941, Salinger began submitting stories for The New Yorker magazine, but was soon drafted into the army in 1942. During this time, he met with a great influence to his writing, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway praised Salinger’s writing and remarked on his talent during their correspondence. After a few years of fighting in the war, J.D. Salinger was assigned to the counter-intelligence division due to his fluency in German and French where he was sent to interrogate the war prisoners. Subsequent to his service in counter-intelligence, Salinger submitted a short story titled “Bananafish” to The New Yorker in 1947. Another highly acclaimed literary work of his is The Catcher in The Rye, which was published in 1951. (Charles McGrath)
“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” revolves around the main character, Seymour Glass and his wife as they vacation in Florida just after World War II in 1948. It is soon revealed that Seymour Glass is suspected to have mental illness after his return from the war, leaving his wife, Muriel, and all the people around him in danger. A materialistic wife with little regard for Seymour’s mental health, Muriel displays a sizable lack of interest for the people around her. The reader is left in suspense as Seymour interacts with a small child named Sybil, uncertain whether or not he will turn out to be insane. Many critics have praised “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”, along with other works by Salinger. Charles McGrath of the New York Times writes, “The stories were remarkable for their sharp social observation, their pitch-perfect dialogue”(McGrath). In “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” Jerome David Salinger employs the use of symbolism and foreshadowing to convey the theme of materialistic desires and the difficulty in communication.
Through symbolism, Salinger compares Seymour Glass to his “bananafish”. Glass reveals the bananafish’s selfish and materialistic nature when he describes them as, “Well, they swim into a hole where there's a lot of bananas. They are very ordinary-looking fish when they swim in. But once they get in, they behave like pigs”(Salinger). He explains that the fish are very normal before their desire hits, and once it does, they gorge themselves on the “bananas”. Seymour is indeed the bananafish because Anthony Fassano remarks on this point in his paper, “Salinger’s A Perfect Day for Bananafish” when he notes, “The primary reason for arguing that Seymour is the bananafish is the fact that he,...

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