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Payton Sullivan

Mrs. Sharp

English 11

20 February 2018

Implicit/ Explicit Analysis

In the short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”, written by J.D. Salinger, Salinger

expresses the importance of communication through explicit, implicit, and uncertain themes.

Salinger wrote this to inform the intended audience of adults in society that PTSD is a serious

issue and extreme consumerism is a toxic cycle that can be purified through interpersonal


The main character of the story, Seymour Glass, is a recently returned army veteran, who

is most likely dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. Everyone around Seymour can tell that

he is a little odd since returning from the war, with even strangers asking “if Seymour’s been

sick or something,” (6). Despite all of the warning signs, nobody reaches out to communicate

and help Seymour, not even his wife. Seymour is not in a healthy mental state, and

communication with any adult may have stopped him from ending his life prematurely.

Seymour’s actions all point to PTSD and his mother-in-law is constantly criticizing his actions,

showing that she observes his peculiar behavior. She even once mentions how a doctor thinks it

was a “crime the Army released him from the hospital,” (5). If everyone who noticed these odd

changes in Seymour’s behavior had communicated and put together a way to help him then

PTSD would not have overcome Seymour to the point of suicide. Salinger explicitly shows the

effects of PTSD on Seymour, which convey his view of the extreme importance of simple

Salinger also expresses his point of view through implicit themes. When Seymour is on

the beach, he spends time with a young girl named Sybil. He tells her some story about

bananafish, and claims that she has already seen some throughout her life. Bananafish are

described as greedy consumers. They are said to “lead a very tragic life” (9). Seymour’s story of

these piglike creatures is an extended analogy of people who are extreme consumers, or

materialistic. He implies that those who are constantly focused on having more for themselves,

are never truly happy. Rather than experiencing and enjoying life in the moment, they are simply

finding ways to possess more things. Salinger is implying that if people are constantly focused

on themselves and the things they have, they will fail at communication with other and will miss

out on the importance of life. This is exemplified through Seymour’s marriage with his wife

Muriel. Muriel can be described as materialistic and self-involved. While on vacation, she

choose to “put lacquer on [her] nails” (4) inside of the hotel room rather than enjoy her vacation

spending time with her husband. Salinger implies that extreme consumerism weakens

communication, resulting in unhealthy relationships.

An uncertain theme presented throughout the story is innocence. Seymour is constantly

acting as if he were a child and seems to have an easier time communicating with the young girl,

Sybil, than all other adults. When Seymour and Sybil were on the beach together, he “picked up

one of Sybil’s wet feet... and kissed the arch,” (10). Where an act of this sort would normally

seem creepy, Seymour is simply exhibiting his innocence. He has a very difficult time

communicating on a mature level with adults, including Muriel, and seems to be enjoying his

time much more when innocently playing with a child. The only time in the story when Seymour

communicates in a mature way is when he takes his life at the end of the story, showing how he
must have been struggling. If he hadn’t been as innocent and could use the power of

communication to his advantage, he could have received help.

Throughout the story, Salinger expresses the importance of communication through

explicit, implicit, and uncertain themes.