Searching for Innocence: A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger Essay

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As Irving Howe once observed, “The knowledge that makes us cherish innocence makes innocence unattainable.” In a dynamic society, innocence evades even the youngest members of our world; it evades even the nonexistent members of our world. J.D. Salinger explores this elusive innocence in his short story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish." Distinct similarities appear between the main character, Seymour Glass, and Salinger including the World War II experience and attraction for younger, more innocent people (Salerno). Salinger conveys this through Seymour’s preference of a young girl’s company over his own wife's company. Throughout the story, “Salinger constantly draws attention to himself and his precocious intellect” (Daniel Moran). “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” revolves around an army veteran post-World War II who visits a beach resort with his wife but spends more time there with the young Sybil Carpenter. Using a historical context of World War II and portrayal of many different characters, Salinger effectively depicts the story of a man in a desperate search for innocence. In “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” J.D. Salinger uses symbolism and figurative language to stress the concept of unattainable innocence.
The symbolism in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” allowed Salinger to communicate his main theme. One of the most prominent symbols, the colour blue, implies both innocence and depression. In the story, the constant appearance of blue supports Seymour Glass’s search for innocence. For example, Seymour remarks, “That’s a fine blue bathing suit you have on. If there’s one thing I like, it’s a blue bathing suit" (Salinger). However, Sybil’s bathing suit is yellow, and she proceeds to correct him. This seemingly impossible mist...

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Moran, Daniel. “Critical Essay on ‘A Perfect Day for Bananafish.’” Short Stories for Students. Ed. David A. Galens. Vol. 17. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Jan. 2014.
Salerno, Shane, dir. Salinger. American Masters. PBS, 3 Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Mar. 2014. .
Salinger, J. D. A Perfect Day for Bananafish. 1948. Nine Stories. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. American Heritage School. Web. 21 Jan. 2014. .
Wallace, Carey. “Critical Essay on ‘A Perfect Day for Bananafish.’” Short Stories for Students. Ed. David A. Galens. Vol. 17. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Jan. 2014.

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