2. “If you want to look at my feet, say so,” said the young man. “But don’t be a God-damned sneak about it.”
As Seymour returns to his room at the end of the story, he accuses a woman in the elevator of looking at his feet. When she denies this claim, he becomes irate. This unfounded anger illustrates two parts of Seymour’s character. First, such a violent and unprovoked outburst shows that he really is mentally unstable. While Muriel has spoken with her mother about Seymour’s psychological condition, this is the only direct evidence in the story that Seymour is in fact not well. Second, Seymour is angry with the woman for being a “sneak”—that is, for being inauthentic. This is a criticism against the materialistic world of the hotel, where appearances rule. Shortly after this exchange, Seymour commits suicide, and in a way, this outburst is an attempt to have one final interaction or communication with the adult world. His effort is inappropriate and disturbing, but its violence reveals the extent of Seymour’s psychological distress.