Essay on Suicide in A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J. D. Salinger

2073 Words9 Pages
A Perfect Day for Bananafish follows the events leading up to the eventual suicide of Seymour Glass. In the story, Seymour is described as a lost spirit who sees himself as being fundamentally different from his social environment following his wartime experience; he leaves the war “seeing-more” and as a result, awakens to find that he has lost touch with the material world. Salinger uses the story’s dialog as the medium for conveying Seymour’s struggle; he establishes the shallow nature of the environment Seymour is exposed to using the dialog between Muriel and her Mother while simultaneously giving clues about Seymour’s character from the perspectives of the two women in his life. Seymour’s character is built upon further in the second…show more content…
The opening conversation continues to impress the shallowness of Muriel’s character upon the reader. The conversation between Muriel and her mother focuses on the serious subject of Seymour’s potential mental instability, but their attitude towards their topic is softened, almost to the point of indifference, by other superfluous subject matter. Muriel’s mother sounds concerned when she warns Muriel that “Seymour may completely lose control of himself.” This is paired with the mention of Seymour’s war experience and a doctor’s opinion of his release being premature. However, these disturbing facts are contrasted by the tangent where Muriel’s mother asks, “’How are the clothes this year?” Salinger uses the contrasting topics of their conversation to destroy the credibility of their judgments. Muriel’s conclusion to her mother’s warnings, “Mother, I’m not afraid of Seymour,” further diffuses their forbidding effect. The dialog is heavy with references to Seymour and the attitude taken by both Muriel and her mother suggest that he does not correspond to their ideas of normal. During their conversation, Muriel’s mother brings up Seymour’s habit of sunbathing while wearing his bathrobe, which she finds unusual; Muriel’s mother asks Muriel if she can make him change, “’my goodness, he needs the sun, Can’t you make him?’ ‘You
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