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J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day For Ortgies

1956 words - 8 pages

J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day for Bananafish

At first glance, J.D. Salinger's short story 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish' is the story of a psychically-torn war veteran whose post-traumatic stress moves him to take his own life while on a second honeymoon with his wife. Indeed, that is the story, but that first glance does not reveal the inner motives and symbolic pathways Seymour Glass takes to reach the final decision to end his life. The carefully placed details and minute innuendoes are deliberate on Salinger's part, and they represent pieces of the puzzle to find out what is really happening in the protagonist's head. Indeed, 'A Perfect Day' is just one part of the Glass family saga, and Seymour's character and family become even more detailed throughout the other pieces in Salinger's Nine Stories. Regardless, even in this isolated story there are enough hints to flesh his character out from a mere psychotic war veteran into a tragically depicted human bananafish.

An analysis of the short story really has to begin with an analysis of its central character, Seymour Glass, or as Sybil innocently styles him, ?See More Glass.? I have two theories about the significance of Seymour?s name, and they hinge largely on the placement of the quotation marks in Sybil?s version of his name. If we decide that the name should be divided into ?See More? Glass - since his family name is Glass and it could be argued that the word is not significant to every member of the family in the same symbolic way as Seymour - I think the interpretation is very simple. Seymour is a mystical creature, spiritually broken in the war yet still intimately in touch with the metaphorical side of life. Therefore, Seymour merely sees more than those around him and is aware of the fact the everywhere around him are bananafish glutted on the materialism around them. Now, if instead of ?See More? Glass we define him as ?See More Glass? then I have a slightly more cryptic interpretation for his name. Now, the Glass family is Jewish, as is established in Salinger?s Nine Stories, and Seymour is a veteran of World War II. Before America?s involvement in the war, on November 9th, 1938, there was a very violent uprising of Reich citizens against the Jewish population orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels. During that time thousands Jewish citizens were rounded up for concentration camps and their businesses were destroyed, littering the streets with glass from their storefronts. That night came to be known as the Kristallnacht, or in English, the ?Night of Broken Glass.? Though I know there is no direct link to this night in the story, and indeed it took place before Seymour was even in Europe, it has a direct link to the first major violence against Jews as well as a sharp spike in the number of Jewish adults who committed suicide to escape the horrors of the Reich. The perhaps far-fetched, I feel this more esoteric interpretation of Seymour?s name could well...

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