Study Guide

A Perfect Day for Bananafish Isolation

By J.D. Salinger

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Section I (Muriel in the Hotel)

She washed her comb and brush. She took the spot out of the skirt of her beige suit. She moved the button on her Saks blouse. She tweezed out two freshly surfaced hairs in her mole. When the operator finally rang her room, she was sitting on the window seat and had almost finished putting lacquer on the nails of her left hand. (1.1)

Muriel's materialism sets her markedly apart from Seymour. With such fundamental differences, we wonder how close the two of them are.

Muriel Glass

"I mean all he does is lie there. He won't take his bathrobe off." (1.103)

Seymour makes attempts to insulate and isolate himself from the rest of the world. He's afraid to reveal any of himself.

"Mother," the girl interrupted, "listen to me. You remember that book he sent me from Germany? You know – those German poems. What'd I do with it? I've been racking my – " (1.36)

Seymour is clearly quite earnest in asking Muriel to read the poems (Rilke, we can infer). But she doesn't take his request seriously at all, and instead misplaces the book he so valued.

Section II (Seymour on the Beach and in the Hotel)
Seymour Glass

"The lady?" the young man brushed some sand out of his thin hair. "That's hard to say, Sybil. She may be in any one of a thousand places. At the hairdresser's. Having her hair dyed mink. Or making dolls for poor children, in her room." (2.20)

This passage reminds us that Seymour and Muriel are never actually together at any point in this story – until Seymour's death at the end.

Lying prone now, he made two fists, set one on top of the other, and rested his chin on the top one. "Ask me something else, Sybil," he said. (2.20)

Seymour is desperate to make a connection with Sybil. His interactions with her constitute the only real relationship he has in this story.

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