Nine Stories

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Category: Literature

Date Submitted: 04/15/2012 12:21 PM

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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 understanding of the adult world. Therefore, J.D. Salinger’s two short stories, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and “Teddy” represent different stages of youthfulness and innocence, and their illumination of the motives and values of the adult world.

There are two different types of innocence: pure innocence and half innocence. Sybil Carpenter clearly falls into the first stage of innocence, and that has a profound impact on the development of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”. Many things in the world implicitly represent something, whether it is the color white representing peace, or the color red representing love. The color blue is known to represent innocence and purity, and this is very important to the story. When Seymour first sees Sybil, he says “that’s a fine bathing suit you have on. If there is one thing I like, it’s a blue bathing suit.” (Salinger 12) J.D. Salinger is essentially telling us up front that Sybil is as innocent and pure as they come. Through this veiled reference, the reader learns more about Sybil than any other analysis can provide. Her innocence, perhaps causes by her youthfulness, remains a major part of the development of this short story, and further helps the reader understand her youthful tendencies.

Almost as soon as Sybil is...