Characterization in Salinger's Nine Stories

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  • Topic: J. D. Salinger, Nine Stories, A Perfect Day for Bananafish
  • Pages : 2 (653 words )
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  • Published : December 18, 2006
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Characterization in Salinger's Nine Stories
J. D. Salinger's style of characterization is very specific, distinct and unique. Nine Stories in particular has it's characterization has three types: An adult character that is jaded tired of life, and lacks innocence, purity and understanding. Quite contrary to that is the child character that is full of purity and innocence. In the middle of the two is the transitional character, which is suspended between jaded adulthood and childlike purity. This style of characterization is titled by Salinger himself, which he calls the "Salinger Scale".

The adult characters in the Salinger Scale are very unfortunate people. They have become jaded and cynical, lacking in virtue and clarity. Muriel, in A Perfect Day for Bananafish is one such character. She is bored, apathetic and rather cynical. She has grown up too much, she is not kind nor is she compassionate. The way she to talks to her mother demonstrates how rude and indifferent she can be and her lack on concern for her husband illustrates her coldness. Another adult character of the "Salinger Scale" is Eloise. Her drinking problem is symbolic for her adult-ness. She is cynical and does not care about her life, nor the lives of her family. She tries to take away the innocence of her daughter, Ramona, by getting angry at her when Ramona tells them about her "boyfriend". Eloise was a rather callous and sarcastic woman.

In contrast to the Adult character is the Child character, which is innocence and purity personified. Children are Salinger's ideal, and his characters can be considered heroes if they ascend into Adulthood and still keep their morality, innocence and trust. For example, Sybil, in A Perfect Day for Bananafish is a child, and she is pure and kind, not judging anyone. She talks to Seymour and asks questions wanting to learn more of the world. She shows her imagination when she claims to have seen bananafish. Teddy, (Teddy), is innocent and understanding,...
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