A Perfect Day for Bananafish
By Jerome David Salinger
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A Perfect Day for Bananafish is a short story by J. D. Salinger, originally published in the January 31, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. It was anthologized in 1949's 55 Short Stories from the New Yorker as well as in J. D. Salinger's 1953 collection, Nine Stories. It is the first of his stories to feature a member of the fictional Glass family; following Seymour Glass and his wife on a second honeymoon, in Florida.
The story, originally titled "A Fine Day for Bananafish", was an important one in J. D. Salinger's career. The New Yorker, which at the time had published only one of his stories, accepted "Bananafish" for immediate publication and, because of its "singular quality," signed J. D. Salinger to a contract giving them right of first refusal on any future stories. Upon its publication, the story A Perfect Day for Bananafish was met with immediate acclaim; according to J. D. Salinger biographer Paul Alexander, it was "the story that would permanently change his standing in the literary community."
When Brigitte Bardot wanted to buy the rights to the story, J. D. Salinger refused the request, but told his friend Lillian Ross, longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, "She's a cute, talented, lost enfante, and I'm tempted to accommodate her, pour le sport."
A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J. D. Salinger: The story A Perfect Day for Bananafish details Seymour's day on the beach, as his wife, Muriel, spends her time in a hotel room talking to her mother on the phone about clothing and Seymour's behavior. She asks about the location of a book by a German poet which Seymour sent her, but which she had never read. Seymour is concerned about many obscure things, such as people staring at his feet, and wears a bathrobe on the beach to avoid people staring at a tattoo which he does not have. While in the water, Seymour tells a story of the bananafish to a young girl named Sybil. The fish, he says, are "very ordinary looking" when they swim into a hole, but once in the hole, eat so much they cannot escape and subsequently die of banana fever. He then returns to his room where Muriel is sleeping, retrieves a gun from his luggage, sits down next to her and shoots himself in the right temple.
The short story A Perfect Day for Bananafish is recognized for its technical achievement as well as the macabre sense of humor inherent in much of J. D. Salinger's works. Some critics focused on symbolism. J. D. Salinger used dialogue in the first section of the story A Perfect Day for Bananafish to describe the shallowness of Muriel and her mother. The second section of A Perfect Day for Bananafish begins with Sybil Carpenter, a young girl wearing a two-piece swim suit, saying "see more glass." Her mother is also talking about clothes, similar to Muriel's mother. Seymour isolates himself on the beach, and his answers to Sybil's question of "where is the lady?" make it clear he is discouraged with her. There are many interpretations of the motives for his suicide, and at least one contrasts his "vulgar, destructive" wife and the "clean, pure" aspect of little Sybil. (Summary from Wikipedia)
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