Now, for the third time since he had returned from the hospital that day, he opened the woman's book and read the brief inscription on the flyleaf. Written in ink, in German, in a small, hopelessly sincere handwriting, were the words "Dear God, life is hell...
摘自http://sittingbee.com/a-perfect-day-for-bananafish-j-d-salinger/ In A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger we have the theme of appearance, innocence, materialism and communication. Taken from his Nine Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Salinger may be exploring the theme of ...
In A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger we have the theme of appearance, innocence, materialism and communication. Taken from his Nine Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Salinger may be exploring the theme of appearance. As Muriel is waiting to use the phone in her hotel bedroom the reader finds that she has spent her time washing her comb and brush, taking a spot out of her skirt and tweezing two freshly surfaced hairs in her mole. Though this may all appear to be insignificant or something Muriel does to simply pass the time while she is waiting for the phone it is more likely that Salinger is highlighting to the reader the importance of appearance or image to Muriel. It is quite possible that Salinger is suggesting that Muriel may be more focused on herself (and her appearance) rather than on others (Seymour’s plight) and that she possesses a certain type of shallowness. It is also possible that by mentioning the Saks blouse and the women’s magazine, Salinger is also delving into the theme of materialism, again something that appears to be important to Muriel.
Salinger may also be exploring the idea or theme of appearance while Muriel is on the phone talking to her mother. While Muriel is talking to her mother she comments on a dress that the psychiatrist’s wife was wearing while Muriel was talking to the psychiatrist in the hotel bar. It becomes clear to the reader that Muriel does not consider that the psychiatrist’s wife had the appropriate figure to be wearing the dress. This may be significant as it again suggests the importance of appearance to Muriel. She would appear to be judging people based solely on their physical appearance rather than on their character. It may also be significant that Muriel and her mother saw the dress in a shop (Bonwit’s) window, as again this would play on the idea of materialism and it’s importance to Muriel (and her mother).
Muriel’s conversation with her mother on the phone is also important as it is through the conversation that the reader realises that Salinger is also exploring the theme of communication. Neither Muriel nor her mother allow each other the opportunity to finish their sentences while they are talking to each other. There is a feeling that both are talking at each other rather than with each other. It may also be significant that Muriel tells her mother that she couldn’t really talk to the psychiatrist in the bar due to the noise. Again this may suggest the difficulties in communicating with others. The more obvious incident in whereby Salinger explores the difficulties in communicating with others is the fact that Seymour prefers to spend his time away from people (particularly adults), his preference being to sit in the Ocean room of the hotel playing the piano while Muriel sits in the bar. It is possible that Salinger is suggesting that Seymour distances himself from other adults as he is aware of how shallow they may be. It is also noticeable that while he is sitting on the beach, Seymour has chosen a spot that is outside the area reserved for guests of the hotel. Again there is a sense that Seymour wishes to isolate himself from others.
Though Seymour distances himself from those around him, he does have time for children, particularly Sybil Carpenter and Sarah Lipschutz. This may be significant as it can suggest that Seymour longs, by his interaction with Sybil and Sarah, for a return to innocence. The reader is aware that Seymour is suffering from what today would be called post-traumatic stress disorder caused by his participation and involvement in WWII and it is quite possible that Seymour, by distancing himself from adults, longs to live in a world that is simpler and purer (a child’s world).
There is also a lot of symbolism in the story which may be important. Salinger appears to be playing with names, both Seymour’s (see more) and Sarah Lipschutz’s (lips shut). Both these names are important as they suggest that Seymour has seen more (from his time in WWII) and Sarah’s name is significant as it suggests that Seymour prefers to keep his ‘lips shut’ or avoid communication with those around him (again particularly adults). The Bananafish itself may also be important as it can be seen to symbolise greed (through materialism). Just as the bananafish gorge on bananas Salinger may also be suggesting that people ‘fatten’ themselves with materialism. It is also possible that the Bananafish may symbolise the emotional pain that Seymour feels. Just as the Bananafish eat too many bananas, emotionally things get too much for Seymour.
The colour blue, which is mentioned twice in the story (Seymour’s swimming trunks and Muriel’s coat) may also be important symbolism. Blue is usually associated (particularly in literature) with innocence and purity. By dressing Seymour in blue while he is at the beach talking to Sybil, Salinger may be suggesting that Seymour though he may no longer be innocent or pure, is striving for a return to innocence. It may also be significant that Muriel tells her mother that she took the padding out of her blue coat. It is possible that this may suggest a lack of purity within Muriel. The reader already aware of the importance of appearance and materialism to Muriel.
The ending of the story is also interesting as it is through the ending that the reader gets a sense of how difficult Seymour finds it to live in a world that he does not like. The incident in the lift with the woman (who Seymour accuses of looking at his feet) serves to highlight this difficulty. While Seymour was able to express himself and participate in life with Sybil on the beach, it is apparent that this is not the case for Seymour when he in the lift. It is most likely because of this inability to interact (or communicate) with others, who are not children and his wishing not to be involved in a world in whereby he sees every adult as shallow or preoccupied with materialism, that Seymour takes the drastic step of killing himself.