A brief description of the story
“A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” a story was written by J. D. Salinger, introduces the character Seymour Glass, a man who served for a while in the armed forces during the second war. In brief, it is a story about a mentally unstable man that is fighting with his id, superego. The readers may also analyze the peculiarities of the connection between Seymour and the rest of the world. In the story, the hero cannot take control over his mind and, finally, it leads to his downfall. There are many moments throughout the story when it Seymour acts in a different way, especially in comparison to people around him. As a result, the hero is not able to see the differences between socially-acceptable things and socially-unacceptable, and, therefore, his psyche is affected the most.
The influence of the War II on hero’s psyche
There are no doubts that, first of all, Seymour’s id is greatly affected by the events he faced during the war. In other ways, his behavior is the outcome of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder the hero faces after the stressful situation he experienced during the war times. Nevertheless, he still remains in spirit as the essence of truth and innocence.
Seymour’s place in society
Another reason that greatly influences the hero’s mind is the false beliefs of the materialistic society in which the hero lives. As it was already mentioned, the war has changed hero’s personality. It contributed to his uncontrolled childish behavior, a kind of immaturity, and the innocence. As a result, he acts not like everyone else around him. Even the closest people are not able to understand Seymour.
In fact, during Muriel’s conversation with her mother, the readers may see that the mom clearly considers Seymour to be out of his mind. The woman believes that he is dangerous to society. Even more, Muriel’s mother is even afraid of Seymour and wants her daughter to come back home from the vacation. Nevertheless, Muriel seems to be calm and does not believe in the seriousness of the issue. The woman endlessly insists that her husband is fine, and, therefore, her mother has no reasons to be scared. In reality, the woman just is not ready to accept the truth.
As far as the society is concerned, the readers may see that after the war, people are actually too overwhelmed with the ideas of materialism and, because of this fact, there is no place for the innocent hero in the society. Therefore, it becomes merely impossible for his id to fit into the materialistic society that greatly changed after the war. Consequently, all these factors led him to his mental instability and the downfall of his superego.
Besides, there is also another problem. Because of the complexity of Seymour’s psychological state, the hero is merely trapped between two worlds and is unable to choose the one he really desires. He is stuck in the middle of nowhere instead of living in his own world. For sure, there is nothing wrong with the hero’s innocent actions, namely the invention of banana fish. However, the problem is that his foolish behavior leads to great differences between Seymour and the rest of society. Therefore, all these facts lead to the hero’s conclusion about the suicide at the end of the story.
Applying Freudian Psychoanalysis Theory
Applying Freud’s psychoanalysis theory, it is possible to clarify the outcomes of Seymour’s psychological state damaged during the war times on his social skills and the ability to fit the rest of the world. According to Freud’s theory, Seymour’s mind can be divided into three layers. As far as the conscious level is concerned, he lives in a kind of “imagined world” and his thoughts and feelings are focused on such things as a bananafish story or other notions that come from his mind. He believes in the model of the world that he imagines and, therefore, Seymour’s conscious is damaged by the distorted perception of the reality. As far as the preconscious level is concerned, although there is no direct evidence in the text, one may assume that the hero subconsciously retrieves the events from his memory related to the war. As a result, it only contributed to the downfall of the hero and his inability to live by the rules of the rest of the world. And the last unconscious level may be described as a reservoir of Seymour’s feelings and memories that are outside of his conscious awareness. These feelings are mainly unpleasant memories, connected with the emotions of pain and anxiety from the hero’s damaged past.
Throughout the story, it becomes evident that Seymour cannot anymore control his id that operates entirely at an unconscious level. Seymour’s actions clearly tell that the war-damaged his psyche to the degree where his id took the control over his superego. In fact, his superego failed the hero to act in socially and morally acceptable ways. For instance, this process may be traced in the hero’s conversation with Sybil about Connecticut or his strong beliefs in the banana fish. Listening to Sybil’s statements about Connecticut and other things, Seymour perceives child’s mind even more comfortable than his own. As a result, the connection between Seymour and the child becomes stronger as the hero cannot understand the rest of society.
The case of suicide
As it was already mentioned, there are many things that contributed to Seymour’s suicide and the downfall of his superego. Despite the hero’s belief that his psychical nature is under control, the bananafish primarily represents a corrupt adult experience. The hero clearly does not want to become the bananafish, so he decides to kill himself to end his physical existence in the materialistic world and the fighting with between his id and superego. In conclusion, it should be emphasized that it is impossible to define a concrete reason for his suicide as his death is the outcome of the different events that took place both during the war and during after war times.