Mental Effects Of War In A Perfect Day For Bananafish By J.D. Salinger

1676 words - 7 pages

Smoke rises up from the charred ground as the sounds of guns and screams die out, leaving behind bloody bodies and a chilling silence. War is a horrifying event that leaves soldiers with troubling memories that haunt them for the rest of their lives. Along with other soldiers, J.D. Salinger lived his life with painful memories of war. Mental problems that developed from these terrible experiences were rarely treated; those who were hospitalized and “cured” still had lingering mental issues. After World War II, America did not focus on the mental health of soldiers. So, Salinger decided to bring awareness to the issue through entertaining and realistic short stories. As a result of his traumatizing experience in World War II, J.D. Salinger set out to expose the mental effects of war through characters and symbolism in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”.
Even in his childhood, his involvement with both the military and literature was evident. Born on New Year’s Day in 1919, Salinger spent his childhood in New York. Although he was intelligent, he was not a good student and flunked out of McBurney School. Salinger was then sent off to Valley Forge Military Academy for the remainder of his high school years. At the military academy, he “became the literary editor of the school yearbook,” (McGrath). This was the beginning of his interest in writing. After graduating, Salinger attended many colleges but the one that was the most critical to his success as a writer was Columbia College in New York. There, he met Professor Whit Burnett, the editor of Story Magazine. Burnett published some of Salinger’s early short stories. Soon, Salinger even had some stories appear in well-known magazines, such as the Saturday Evening Post (“J.D. Salinger Biography”). J.D. Salinger’s writing career was finally taking off.
However, World War II interrupted his life and changed him forever. The war was one of the largest military conflicts in the world that involved deadly and sophisticated weaponry. The battles in the war were bloody and chaotic. Bombs were being dropped all around and bullets were zipping through the air. On the battlefield, no soldier was safe. Unfortunately, many soldiers died, often painfully and horrifically, fighting for their countries. Those who lived developed mental problems and had trouble returning to their normal lives. The war resulted in a shocking fifty million deaths worldwide (“World War II”). The aftereffects of the war were devastating not only to the country as a whole but individuals as well.
J.D. Salinger joined the fight right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was drafted into the US Army and served for two years. During that time, Salinger participated in the bloody battles of Utah Beach on D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge (“J.D. Salinger Biography”). At Utah Beach, over 2,000 members of Salinger’s regiment were killed right in front of him. Unsurprisingly, seeing his friends and fellow soldiers die horribly next to him was...

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