A Perfect Day for Bananafish

by: J. D. Salinger

Muriel Glass

Muriel, a pretty and self-interested socialite, is firmly entrenched in the superficial, materialistic world in which Seymour is an outsider. She places great importance on her appearance, spends time reading vapid magazines, and is concerned with the horrendous fashion she sees at the Florida resort. When Sybil asks Seymour where Muriel is, Seymour says, “She may be in one of a thousand places. At the hairdresser’s. Having her hair dyed mink.” Muriel elicits nothing but scorn from Seymour presumably since he came home from the war, although she is not overly concerned with his behavior, even his calling her “Miss Spiritual Tramp 1948.”

Muriel’s unconcern suggests devotion to Seymour as well as indifference and naïveté. She willingly drove to Florida with him even after he crashed her father’s car, and she defends him against her mother’s wild, worried accusations. Though her mother criticizes Seymour’s erratic behavior, Muriel dismisses it and seems to accept that Seymour’s behavior is part of who he is. However, her unconcern also suggests that she is indifferent to Seymour’s mental health and well-being. Clearly, he has been psychologically damaged in the war, yet Muriel only half-heartedly pursues answers and information from a psychiatrist at the resort. She all but ignores Seymour during their trip, never pressuring him to make more effort to be social or trying to make him fit into social norms. Ultimately, her lack of concern reveals her naïveté. Seymour is and has been truly disturbed, but even at his moment of greatest crisis—when he takes the gun from his luggage and shoots himself in the head—Muriel has no idea of the extent of Seymour’s distress. Her lack of concern may well have been a strange form of devotion, but it ultimately enabled Seymour to carry out his violent suicide.