We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Bananafish Part II

Seymour Glass suffers from psychological trauma after the war – this could be what I expect is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but Seymour’s behaviour with Sybil and his resultant suicide would suggest that Seymour suffers from something much worse than PTSD. Perhaps Seymour – like Holden Caulfield – suffers from depression.

Seymour is greatly affected by the little girl – Sybil – that he spends a great deal of time with on the beach. He enjoys spending time with her and perhaps even other children because they are still so innocent and still believe that the world is all rainbows and unicorns. This allows Seymour to immerse himself in this world of fantasy and enables him to escape the harsh reality that he encountered when he was fighting in the war; the very war that destroys Seymour. Sybil is untainted by the world, her innocence is untainted and she is able to understand Seymour better than anyone else that he knows. She represents what he wishes to retrieve but Seymour is so tainted by what he has seen that his innocence has been lost forever.

Seymour’s wife Muriel is one of the many things that send Seymour over the top – pushing him towards his eventual suicide. Muriel epitomises the very things that Seymour detests – she is concerned with the superficial and mundane things that Seymour finds so tedious. This is why Seymour looking at Muriel before he shoots himself is so poignant. Muriel represents the things that Seymour wishes to reject – adulthood and superficiality – which is why it comes as little surprise when in Raise High the Roof beam we discover that Seymour had doubts about getting married.

Sybil’s innocence in her belief in the Bananafish and then actually seeing a Bananafish is what sends Seymour over the top – her innocence reminds him of how his innocence can never be restored and that kills him – leading him to his suicide. Sybil pronouncing Seymour Glass as ‘see more glass’ is very relevant in this story as she wants her mother to see more into Seymour; since she understands Seymour in a way that adults cant. Sybil sees more of Seymour than any other adult. Seymour’s suicide is his escape from an oppressive adult world which he inhabits as an outsider.

The title A Perfect Day for Bananafish is as pertinent as the symbolism in the story itself. Seymour makes up the Bananafish – saying that it is a fish that engorge themselves on bananas and then die of banana fever. Seymour is the Bananafish – he has had enough of the greed and materialism that go hand in hand with adulthood – his mental state is akin to banana fever and that is what kills him much like it does the Bananafish.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What did you think? I would love to read your comments.