A Perfect Day for Bananafish

by: J. D. Salinger

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Bananafish

Bananafish, the imaginary creatures that gorge themselves on bananas and then die of banana fever, represent Seymour and his struggles to reengage with society after returning from the war. Seymour, an outsider in a world that seems to be guided by materialism, greed, and pettiness, has no real outlet for the complicated emotions he carries around inside him. He has been psychologically damaged by the war and, having been released early from the Army hospital, is clearly not getting the care he needs. Muriel and her family exist in a world he does not understand, and his behavior in that world is inappropriate, disturbing, and dangerous. His devotion to Sybil and other children reveals his heartbreaking yearning for innocence and clarity, feelings that have no outlet in the adult world. Just as the bananafish become too fat to leave their holes, Seymour is “fat” from the overflow of painful emotions he cannot express. At the end of the story, he, like the bananafish, dies.