The theme of "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" involves people's perceptions of one another. The supporting characters in the story all view Seymour differently. For instance, the woman in the hotel sees her companion as torn and confused from the war. She seems annoyed with him, "I mean all he does is lie there. He won't take his bathrobe off." The woman's parents speak of Seymour "as though he were a raving maniac." They are concerned about the way he has acted in the past and what he may do in the future. On the other hand, little Sybil Carpenter absolutely adores Seymour. She jokes with him on the beach in their playful conversations. All three of these characters know Seymour fairly well, yet they all seem him as a different person. Seymour is a different person to the woman, her parents, Sybil, and even the woman in the elevator. In real life, we know and judge people through our personal observations and experiences with them, much like the characters in the story.
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish" includes a few examples of symbolism. In the story, Muriel is portrayed as a self-centered material girl. This is apparent through the way that she allows the phone to ring, "She was a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing." To Muriel, nothing is more important than her nails, her clothes, and getting her own way. Like Muriel, the Bananafish is only interested in itself. The fish eat bananas in the hole until "they're so fat they can't get out of the hole again," and eventually die. The Bananafish are a symbol of Muriel, who may eventually die after living a self-indulged life. Another example of symbolism in "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" involves Sybil Carpenter and Sharon Lipschutz. Both girls are young and innocent and seemingly admire Seymour a great deal. Seymour yearns for their innocence because he is dismayed at the contrast to the spoiled Muriel. He is attracted to their purity and goodness because he doesn't see that in Muriel. Sybil...
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