Nine Stories Essay

2055 words - 9 pages

In J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories, specifically “A Perfect Day for Banana Fish” and “Teddy”, there are multiple tales centered on children. The way that Sybil Carpenter and Teddy McArdle are depicted in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and “Teddy”, respectively, is similar, yet representative of wildly different things. Sybil for the most part plays the role of an innocent child who thinks very simply. Despite this, her presence and behavior help the reader draw many complex conclusions about the main adult in the story, Seymour Glass. Teddy is different in that he is in not purely innocent, but also not purely grown up as a result of his abilities and experiences and this provides an in depth ...view middle of the document...

Almost as soon as Sybil is introduced, it is made obvious that she is very simple. She isn’t much different than most children her age, in that she believes basically everything that is told to her. This is why she accepts the existence of a Bananafish without a doubt when Seymour Glass says “Sybil, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll see if we can catch a Bananafish” (Salinger 13). Sybil blindly believing Seymour is not a negative commentary on her, but in fact a general commentary on the nature of children. That said Sybil is still simplistic as a result of being a child. Towards the end of the interaction between these two, Seymour “picked up one of Sybil’s wet feet, which were drooping over the end of the float, and kissed the arch” (Salinger 17). Sybil responded with a sharp “hey!”, but other than that, she really did not react at all. Even when Seymour informs her that they are getting out of the water, she does not want to. Just in that small sample size of a few lines, Salinger successfully shows the reader that Sybil still has the simplicity typically found in children. When they are offended, they generally do not stay upset for very long, much the same as how Sybil immediately forgives Seymour. Salinger plays with this characteristic of children, and uses it to show the reader that even though Sybil is the main character of this story, she is still a little girl, with the all the traits that come with that age, such as simplicity.
Sybil’s presence and behavior help the reader come to many complex conclusions about the main adult in the story, Seymour Glass. Seymour’s motives and values are clearly and concisely revealed through prose with Sybil. Salinger again uses the representation of the color blue to show innocence. When Seymour takes off his robe to go in the water, it is discovered that “his shoulders were white and narrow, and his trunks were royal blue” (Salinger 13). Seymour seems like an unlikely person to be considered innocent, but that is exactly what Salinger is saying. However, Seymour’s innocence is very different than that of Sybil’s in many ways. In addition to the royal blue swim trunks, interaction between these two people leads to a further illumination of Seymour’s innocence. Seymour is probably somewhere in his mid to late twenties, and he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, yet you would never know that based off of his experience with Sybil. He comes across as a nice guy who only cares about making the child happy. When Sybil asks him if he has read Little Black Sambo, he responds by saying “It’s very funny you ask me that, it so happens I just finished reading it last night. What did you think of it?” (Salinger 14) Seymour seems naturally talented in his dealings with youth, which is in fact a sign of innocence, as in order to be able to relate to the innocence and purity of a child, it is an absolute must that that person has at least a little innocence of their own. Ipso...

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