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"A Perfect Day For Bananafish" Research Paper

895 words - 4 pages

As Irving Howe once observed, “The knowledge that makes us cherish innocence makes innocence unattainable.” In a dynamic society, innocence evades even the youngest members of our world; it evades even the nonexistent members of our world. J.D. Salinger explores this elusive innocence in his short story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish." Distinct similarities appear between the main character, Seymour Glass, and Salinger including the World War II experience and attraction for younger, more innocent people. Salinger conveys this through Seymour’s preference of a young girl’s company over his own wife's company. Throughout the story, “Salinger constantly draws attention to himself and his ...view middle of the document...

” Blue continually emerges during the story; for example, Seymour dons blue swimming trunks and his wife removes the padding from a blue jacket (in this case she lacks innocence because she removes from the blue). It is only fitting that Seymour and Sybil swim in a blue ocean under the blue skies.
Another important symbol seen in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” is the number six. Biblically, six represents sin and evil. Six shows just that in the story. In a dialogue exchange between Sybil and Seymour, Sybil claims to see a bananafish and Seymour says, “My God, no!...Did he have any bananas in his mouth?” to which Sybil replies, “Yes..Six” (Salinger). Bananafish are clearly not innocent; their sin is gluttony. Anthony Fassano mentions that “The bananafish ‘behave like pigs’ and take more than they need.” Innocence is the absence of sin and where this is six there is sin therefore where there is six there cannot be innocence. Seymour’s wife lacks innocence because she waits to pick up a phone call until the sixth ring. Such appearances of the number six emphasize where innocence exists and where it does not.
The entire story surrounds these imaginary creatures called bananafish. These bananafish represent the main character, Seymour Glass. Both the bananafish and Seymour end with an untimely demise. When Sybil inquires about the fate of bananafish, Seymour tells her, “After they eat so many bananas they can’t get out of the banana hole...Well I hate to tell you, Sybil. They die" (Salinger). The bananafish die because of their excessiveness and Mr. Glass had excessiveness of a different nature but excessiveness nevertheless. In a paper by Alan Blackstock and Adrienne Pilon, the authors state, “The...

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