Buildup Of Emotions And Lack Of Communication: A Perfect Day For Bananafish By J.D. Sallinger

1592 words - 6 pages

The human mind, only able to withstand so much pressure before losing control, is like a volcano. The harsh truths that accumulate throughout the course of one’s life can lead to devastation, the eruption of the mind’s volcano. American twentieth century author, J.D. Salinger, illustrates the devastating consequences caused by a buildup of emotions and a lack of communication in his short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” Salinger “has become, in biographer Ian Hamilton's phrase, ‘famous for not wanting to be famous’ ” (Stevick). In this short story, Salinger details the interactions of the main character, Seymour Glass, with Sybil Carpenter, a young girl. Through these interactions, Salinger provides the reader with a glimpse into Seymour’s unstable, troubled mind. Seymour’s demise shows the importance of true communication and the expression of such emotions. By releasing societal pressures and not allowing oneself to be plagued by materialistic ideals, one can truly achieve a stable state of mind. Through the use of symbolism, foreshadowing, and motif, J.D. Salinger's short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” communicates the theme that effective communication is often a monumental struggle.
Salinger uses the sun as a symbol for the effects of materialism. If the sun represents the “burn” or impact of materialism on an individual, then Muriel, suffering from a painful sunburn, is engulfed by a materialistic world. Seymour, on the other hand, pale and guarded from the sun’s penetrating rays, exists sheltered and excluded from materialistic society, choosing to dwell on simpler, childlike pleasures. Muriel’s mother tells her daughter, “My goodness, he [Seymour] needs the sun. Can't you make him?" (Salinger 5). This instance illustrates the pressure for Seymour to conform to society, a society he feels that he does not belong to. However, Muriel fails to truly understand her husband’s motives, perhaps playing a role in his demise. Seymour seeks shelter, for his “war experiences have left him so badly shaken that he searches for some form of purity in what he sees as a dangerous and corrupt world” (“Overview: ‘A Perfect Day for Bananafish.’ ”). Unbeknown to the individuals surrounding him, Seymour yearns for refuge from the painful truths of society. By using the sun as a symbol for materialism, Salinger highlights the detriments of being immersed in a materialistic world with nowhere to turn.
Salinger also uses the bananafish as a symbol for Seymour’s internal emotional struggle to suggest the harsh consequences resulting from a buildup of emotions. The story of the bananafish, which Seymour communicates to Sybil, shares a striking resemblance to Seymour’s emotional and social situation. The bananafish ultimately succumbs to a death resulting from eating too many bananas and therefore being too large to escape the banana hole. Seymour tells Sybil, “Naturally, after that they're so fat they can't get out of the hole again. Can't fit...

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