3. Then he went over sat down on the unoccupied bed, looked at the girl, aimed the pistol, and fired a bullet through his right temple.
The final sentences of the story demonstrate Salinger’s control of language to create tone and tension. These short phrases portray Seymour’s actions as calm and matter-of-fact—there is no room for doubt or hesitation in the abrupt phrases. Tension builds as the actions pile up, and until the last moment, there is some ambiguity about whom Seymour will shoot—this may be the crazy act that Muriel’s mother worried Seymour would perpetrate. Instead, Seymour shoots himself, ending his life and the story at the same time. The suicide is so sudden, and at first Seymour’s reasons for doing it seem wholly unclear—he seems unhappy and cut off from the world, yes, but his afternoon on the beach with Sybil did little to suggest that this was to come. However, the story can be read as a slow, simmering buildup of actions and problems, which makes Seymour’s suicide shocking but not necessarily a surprise.