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Soul Searching Seymour

Essay by   •  December 11, 2010  •  1,471 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,387 Views

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Seymour Glass is a war veteran on vacation with his wife Muriel. He seems to suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome because of the war. He recently has tried to commit suicide twice. Once by driving his father-in-law's car into a tree and again by trying to jump out a window. J.D. Salinger's story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," seems to be a simple story about a couple on vacation in Florida and his encounter with a child named Sybil on the beach. Seymour's relationship with Sybil after further examination allows one to see that what really is taking place is Seymour's search for truth and innocence in the world.

Seymour Glass wants more in life than what he has. He is married to a very upper class, materialistic woman named Muriel. "She was a girl who a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing. She looked as if her phone had been ringing continually ever since she had reached puberty" (Nine Stories, 3). Muriel is a very self-absorbed woman who only cares about her appearance and reputation. She seems to care very little about what Seymour is going through. They are supposedly on vacation for Seymour to get away from everything but as she is talking to her mother on the phone she refuses to leave when her mother urges her to because she has not had a vacation in a very long time. Also, she does not seem to be very concerned about what is going on with her husband because although she told her mother that she had spoken to a doctor downstairs about Seymour it seemed as though she really did not want to continue the conversation with the doctor because it looked bad for her that her husband was dealing with a mental illness. Instead she kept using the excuse that it was too loud to talk. Seymour seems to no longer be in love with Muriel. When Sybil asks about her, Seymour responds in an irritated and smart kind of way. He says that, "She may be in any one of a thousand places. At the hairdresser's. Having her hair dyed mink. Or making dolls for poor children, in her room" (12). He knows very well that Muriel would not be making dolls for poor children in her room because it has nothing to do with herself and that is all she cares about.

Not only is Seymour sick of Muriel's way of life but also he often picks at her about it and they all think that what he is saying is due to his illness. For example when Muriel is talking to her mother on the phone, she says that Seymour is on the beach. Muriel tells her mother that Seymour will not take his bathrobe off while he is lying on the beach. "He says he doesn't want a lot of fools looking at his tattoo." (10). When Muriel tells her mother this is why he does not take his robe off, her mother replies that he does not have any tattoos. Which is true. Seymour toys with Muriel and her mother because he is sick of the way they act and they just think he is doing so because he is ill. The same goes for the book of German poems. He had no intention of her actually reading the poems. He knew that she would not take the time to learn any German and read the poems. It was just another way for him to get under her skin. The war had changed Seymour. He no longer cared about materialistic things as he once did. After all he had seen in the war, he changed into a man who cared for the finer things in life, such as friendship, honesty and the innocence of life itself. The only place he could seem to find these characteristics again was in children.

When first reading Seymour and Sybil's encounter at the beach, one can come away with the idea that Seymour is a sick man. That maybe he was attracted to Sybil in some strange way. As if he wanted to do something to her. "The young man suddenly picked up one of Sybil's wet feet, which were dropping over the end of the float, and kissed the arch" (17). Here is where readers begin to get the wrong idea. Before this incident it seemed as if he were just being friendly with one of the children hanging around the resort. He seems to feel sorry for her because her father passed in the war. She keeps speaking as if he is coming back but Seymour knows that this is not true. He can relate to her because she asks simple and innocent questions that make it seem as if she wants to explore the world in a whole other way just as Seymour does. Also there is more to their game of searching for bananafish then it being just some silly little game.

"Well, they swim into a hole where there's a lot of bananas. They're very ordinary- looking fish when they swim in. But once they get in, they behave like pigs. Why, I've known some bananafish to swim into a banana hole and eat as many as seventy-eight

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