Study Guide

A Perfect Day for Bananafish Section II (Seymour on the Beach and in the Hotel)

By J.D. Salinger

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

  • Cut to the beach. A little girl named Sybil Carpenter sits on a beach ball while her mother spreads sun-tan oil on her shoulders. "See more glass," says Sybil, over and over. "Did you see more glass?" (2.1).
  • Sybil's mother finds this irritating, and sends her daughter off to play so she herself can go have a martini.
  • Left to her own devices, Sybil walks a quarter of a mile down the beach, away from the immediate bounds of the hotel. She stops where a young man is lying on his back. "Are you going in the water, see more glass?" she asks (2.10). ("See more glass" = "Seymour Glass")
  • Seymour opens an eye and greets Sybil by name. It seems they've made friends while staying at the hotel.
  • Sybil tells Seymour that her father is coming tomorrow "on a nairplane" (2.17) and asks where "the lady" is (Muriel, we imagine). They lady, says Seymour, is inside the hotel room, having her hair dyed or making dolls for poor children.
  • Seymour compliments Sybil's blue bathing suit; she immediately reminds him, "this is a yellow" (2.21). Of course, says Seymour.
  • He chats playfully with the little girl, asking her what's new or what sign she is. Sybil, being a little girl, changes the subject. She accuses Seymour of letting Sharon Lipschutz sit on the piano bench with him.
  • Seymour admits that this is the case, but explains that there was nothing he could do about it when she came and sat down next to him. But, he says, he pretended she was Sybil.
  • Next time, push her off, says Sybil.
  • Seymour proposes that they go in the water and try to catch a bananafish. He stands up and takes off his robe. He is pale and wearing blue swim trunks. He then picks up his ill-inflated raft and heads for the water with Sybil.
  • Sybil says she's never seen a bananafish.
  • Seymour changes the subject; he asks where she lives. Sybil, walking "stomach foremost" (2.48) into the water, tells him (Whirly Wood, Connecticut) and asks if he has read Little Black Sambo.
  • Yes, says Seymour, he read it last night. He was amazed with how many tigers were in the story.
  • There were only six, says Sybil. Then she ask if Seymour likes wax (he does) and olives (yep) and Sharon Lipschutz.
  • What he likes about Sharon, says Seymour, is that she's never mean to the dogs in the lobby, whereas some little girls he knows like to poke the little dogs with sticks.
  • "I like to chew candles," responds Sybil. "Who doesn't?" says Seymour (2.2.66-7).
  • They finally go into the water; Seymour picks up Sybil and places her on the raft. He tells her to keep an eye out for bananafish, as this is a perfect day for bananafish.
  • Then he explains how bananafish work. They're ordinary-looking, he says, until they swim into a banana hole and gorge themselves on bananas. Then they're so fat they can't get out the hole again. And then…they die. They get banana fever, which is a terrible disease.
  • Seymour lets Sybil get doused by a wave that comes along; she's loving it. Then she reports that she's seen a bananafish – with six bananas in its mouth.
  • Seymour picks up one of Sybil's wet feet and kisses it on the arch. Then he tells her that they're going in to shore, though she protests.
  • Back on the sand, Sybil says goodbye and runs back towards the hotel. Seymour puts on his robe and cinches it up, before plodding back to the hotel himself.
  • In the hotel, Seymour gets into an elevator with an operator and a woman with zinc salve on her nose. "I see you're looking at my feet," he says to her, once the car starts moving (2.102).
  • The women explains that she was looking at the floor.
  • "Don't be a god-damned sneak about it," says Seymour. He then insists that he has normal feet and there's no reason why anybody should be staring at them (2.104).
  • Once he gets to his floor, he walks down to room 507. The room smells like nail polish. Muriel is asleep on one of the twin beds. Seymour goes over to his luggage, takes out an Ortgies caliber 7.65 automatic, sits down on the empty bed, looks at Muriel, and fires a bullet through his right temple.
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