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Characters In A Perfect Day For Bananafish By J.D. Salinger

1158 words - 5 pages

Characters in A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger


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 most about Sybil is that she is to innocent to apply or make judgments upon what she sees, she is only able to blindly comment on its happenings. For instance, when referring to how many tigers ran around the tree Sybil commented ?Only six!?(14), similarly when asked how many bananas the banana fish were eating she exclaimed ?Six!?(16). Firstly, Sybil?s use of the number ?six? suggests that she is repeating the phase phrase six figure but in a simplified manner. Secondly, Sybil?s reference to the phrase six figure depicts her mothers monopolizing influence on her. For instance, the bathing suit purchased by Sybil?s mother, is composed of adult colors rather than the youthful ?blue? that Seymour expects to see. A similar idea is expressed by Sybil?s mother when spreading suntan ?oil? on Sybil?s back in a downwards motion. If yellow is then a adult color and symbolizes materialism, and ?downwards motion? symbolizes oppression then Sybil?s mothers behavior may suggest that she is discouraging her daughter?s naive behavior and attempting to force her to grow up prematurely. Sybil is most likely unaware of her mother?s influence on her child-like manner and therefore she will never fully appreciate her present youth until...

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