Talk:A Perfect Day for Bananafish

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Lkobus.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 13:10, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


added the word in between appeared and Nine Stories. replaced the word written with a comma (for clarity) after the words Glass Family

(The above was added by at 11:56, 30 July 2004)

THE GUILTY UNDERTAKER: okay i added the interpretation section, it's not particularly good but it can be improved upon.

(The above was added by The Guilty Undertaker at 21:15, 13 April 2006)

Whose interpretation is this?! It's terrible; I mean, god-awful. Turly-burly 04:06, 11 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since we have no knowledge of Lisa Willoughby's credentials I hardly think its prudent to advance a theory by her. I have my own interpretations of the story, but I certainly would not quote myself or have anyone cite me if they were writing a wikipedia page on the matter. --Jordan

Furthermore, I just deleted the other interpretation. If that section is going to be written, it has to have substantiated opinions. There are plenty of different literary criticisms of Salinger's stories, so instead of us trying to supply interpretations, we get interpretations who have made this kind of thing their life's work. While every interpretation is valid, trying to project our personal opinions here is in pretty bad taste for any reader who comes to this page looking for information on the story. --Jordan

Link to Unlicensed Online Publishing of Copyrighted Work?[edit]

I'm removing the link to the online version of "A Perfect Day for Bananafish". I *think* that website's content consitutes piracy in the U.S. If I'm completely off-base feel free to revert. Turly-burly 01:21, 8 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That website is unlawful, this is true. It is strange though, because from what I can tell, it has been around for a long time. It seems like Salinger is pretty good at stopping things like that. Who knows... jordan 15:44, 20 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, I have tried to nix it again. And I suggest someone start paying attention to this fact.

Jim Steele (talk) 04:11, 26 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Allusions to other works of art[edit]

Salinger makes an allusion to German Poet Rainer Maria Rilke. I think this information would make a good addition - any other allusions or references might be helpful as well.

The quote "mixing memory and desire" is an allusion to the first part of T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Waste Land' which is about the loss of spiritual values in a materialistic 20th century. - Oh fairweather

Good point, I added the bit about the "book" he sent Muriel, in German. You're right--it was likely Rilke. And the memory and desire piece is important in the story as well, kind of a last bit of scholarship from him before his swan song.

Jim Steele (talk) 04:09, 26 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

glass family[edit]

isnt for else with love and squalor about buddy i think so im adding it to the list unless someone says its not (talk) 06:59, 19 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How dose salinger,s use of narration affect the meaning of "A perfect Day For Bananafish"[edit]

Can you explain. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:10, 22 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What does it all mean?[edit]

I'm largely unsatisfied with explanations of "the mystery" of this story, which unravel from the point of Seymour's war experience. My explanation for Seymour's suicide is that he had pedophilic tendencies, known to himself and possibly other family members, and in the water Seymour was exhibiting himself to the little girl named Sybil. He showed her his penis, the bananafish. Seymour hated himself for this weakness, the inability to discontinue morally inappropriate behavior. His pedophilia victimized subjects that on another level he liked and respected. Like one who is dangling over the precipice while holding on to two sides of a canyon as it ever widens, the internal conflict between social expectation and primitive response to his perversion was too great and Seymour eventually had to let go.

"Well. In the first place, he said it was a perfect crime the Army released him from the hospital--my word of honor. He very definitely told your father there's a chance--a very great chance, he said--that Seymour may completely lose control of himself. My word of honor."

"There's a psychiatrist here at the hotel," said the girl. [1]

So, we should ask at what point did the story's subject "lose control of himself"? Certainly not where any adult might have intervened, but instead at a place and time that was invisible to the more comprehending adults. The loss of control was not at the hotel room with a pistol, but in the ocean, in the presence of someone unable to interpret the correct meaning of the appearance of a "bananafish". Zoologically, there is no such thing as a bananafish, as most readers might conclude. Young children can easily embellish an otherwise incongruous event with their imagination. When I was young, I imagined seeing an ocean of fish, every bit real to me at the time, when I looked through the holes of an iron manhole cover. As an adult, I am amazed by my ability to transform shifting water patterns into stingrays, sharks and the like. Therefore, what exactly could a banafish be? And so close to shore, making its appearance coincidental with the clandestine tryst of adult man and juvenile girl?

"Well, they swim into a hole where there's a lot of bananas. They're very ordinary-looking fish when they swim in. But once they get in, they behave like pigs. Why, I've known some bananafish to swim into a banana hole and eat as many as seventy-eight bananas." He edged the float and its passenger a foot closer to the horizon. "Naturally, after that they're so fat they can't get out of the hole again. Can't fit through the door."Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page).

Seymour could objectify his sickness. Unlike controlling a sneeze, Seymour was self-reflective enough to choose the opportunity to release his peaks of sociopathy.

In short, a story about a man who exposed himself to a little girl at the beach, just out of eye shot from the party, his final "hurrah"and then killed himself.

1. "A Perfect Day For Bananafish" by J.D. Salinger, The New Yorker, January 31, 1948, pages 21-25 § 51-52 2. Ibid. (comment added by ) DGG ( talk ) 04:54, 27 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I re-read your comments and still am curious as to how you think the "mystery" of Seymour could be added into this article. I think the analysis section I created gives one explantion, Seymour is married to a shallow woman who though is beautiful, is quite ugly on the inside. We see that during her conversation with her mother. Her conversation about the ugly people she sees and the petty criticisms about the other vacationers is a stark contrast to the man who made Zoeey shine his shoes for the Fat Lady. She is a mean person, based on the dialogue (although Seymour's diary entries in RHRBC give us a different view) and not at the least Tao in her way of life. So Seymour ends his life (as he prected) tempted by the flesh and choosing lust over enlightenment (similar to Teddy).In terms of the pedophilia, I don't see this. As I said before, Sybil is facing outwards, towards the ocean, and Seymour is behind her. So your scenerio doesn't work. I like your comments on his self-reflection and think that could eventually be added in the analysis section. Jim Steele (talk) 23:17, 29 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

it isn't just ptsd[edit]

The article shouldn't mention PTSD as the sole reason for Seymour's opting to discontinue living. It's misleading to simplify it. He mentions scars on his wrist, throws a rock at Charlotte's face, has violent thoughts, and even forsees the death in Hapworth. It's highly unlikely WWII caused him to do it. Jim Steele (talk) 03:17, 25 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, it's fine that you feel that way, but you cannot add your opinions to the article. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 03:43, 25 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It has nothing to do with how I "feel", it pertains to what is in the text, and what is not. Where in PDFB is PTSD mentioned? Nowhere. Yet the article presents that as fact. Moreover, "shell-shock" pertains to soldiers during and after WWI, but that's another issue. What's important is that the article rely on the text, not as you say "opinions". Though as it reads now, that is the bulk of the article's summary of the story.

Jim Steele (talk) 19:25, 25 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It seems as though what we have here is failure to communicate. I do agree that opinion, or "feelings" on a story don't belong in the summary Yet, a person is reverting edits I have made to summarize--who would have thought--the story of the bananafish in A Perfect Day for Bananafish. The rationale, according to this person who, and I cringe as I write this, considers himself a fan of Salinger, is that "the story of the fish isn't important." Um. Have you read the title? Jim Steele (talk) 18:48, 26 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(you asked me for some advice here): one of the sources you have surely discusses the role of the story--use it as a reference when you add back the discussion. As for your latest revert, the material you say is supported by Gwynn and Blotner, add the citation, even if it duplicates. I'll take a general look for cleanup later--the way to deal with duplicate references is named references, but it's easier to show it than describe it. If the relevance of a citation is questioned, you can add a sentence or two from it into the reference, in quotes, or work it into a sentence in the actual text of the article. DGG ( talk ) 04:50, 27 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Will do. One thing is for certain--I still can't understand why someone would delete a summary of the story of the bananafish in A Perfect Day for Bananafish by saying "the story of the fish isn't important". I had to laugh!

Jim Steele (talk) 04:57, 27 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your last edit simply reverted back to your last version, with uncited opinions, needless repetition, incorrect formatting on titles and refs, etc. I fail to see how you think that is helpful. If the story of the fish is so bloody damn important, find a reputable source that says so! You claim to be an expert, so cite your damn edits. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 15:10, 27 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It would help if you could give me examples of this repetition. It's evident you spend a lot time on this site, and have years under your belt, so I'd expect some discussion on the talk page instead of comments like "blah,blah,blah" embedded in yuor edit summaries. And yes, "the story of the fish" is important in the short story A Perfect Day for Bananafish. That being said, you've answered the question I asked that "got the ball rolling." Where have I claimed to be an expert? If anything, I've admitted I'm learning as I go along. You, however, haven't contributed one piece of information regarding this article, or any of Salinger's. Just deleting and reverting. All I have read from is postings full of anger and profanity, which give me pause and hope your f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s are in tact.

Jim Steele (talk) 21:06, 27 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"the story of the fish" is important in the short story A Perfect Day for Bananafish. Do you have a reliable source to back up this claim? If not, you can't include it. Any analysis you did yourself is not allowed. Sluggo | Talk 01:09, 29 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My personal feeling is that it probably is important, 'cause I do not believe Salinger would add it, and name the entire story for it, but my opinion, or anyone's opinion, doesn't mean a thing. It has to be sourced, as SluggoOne has said. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 01:20, 29 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
RepublicanJacobite, it seems to me that you're making the classic WP:FAC mistake of assuming that a ref can't apply to more than a single sentence unless it's repeated after each and every sentence in a paragraph. Nothing in Wikipedia's policies requires that the refs be named once per grammatical unit. If you're uncertain whether a ref supports more than a single sentence, I have had pretty good success with simply asking the editor (e.g., "Does ref [25] support the sentence you added?) instead of assuming bad faith (e.g., "I removed that because I magically know that it's only your unsourced personal opinion").
I think that all parties would benefit from reading WP:MOSFICT#Plot_summaries and associated pages about the approach Wikipedia takes to summarizing plots. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:38, 29 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I could certainly be wrong, but I'm reading a lot of this as analysis on Jim's part. Any firsthand interpretations of what this means or why this happens do not belong. (And based on both #Plot_summaries and on reading the story, no, the bananafish story does not merit anything but the briefest mention here.) Sluggo | Talk 02:59, 29 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The bananafish story wasn't even mentioned here beforeI started working on this page. I've asked for input and the only reasoning was "the story of the fish doesn't belong here" Because... that my opionion. Yet, removed because of his. Actually it's not opinion ( it's the consensus of literary critics and just about anyone else who has read the story carefully and closely).So it needs a source, that's fine, I'll add another one. As a matter of fact the analysis section I created could use considerations of that story within a story,Seymour's reverence for the Fat Lady and other patterns in his thought that help explain it. And yeah, I've got a source for that!
I'm glad we;ve got a discussion here, because, honestly it does take more effort to write something thoughtfully then to delete it haphazardly. And it's worth it. Jim Steele (talk) 03:20, 29 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nothing was deleted haphazardly; I gave a reason for every deletion I made. Furthermore, the only reason there was not further discussion here is because of your penchant for making presumptive comments about other editors and their motivations. All I have asked is that you provide full references, including quotes from the sources, that back up the claims you have added. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 14:50, 1 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Again with the anger! All I want is some discussion here, and I was the one who started this off admitting we needed to talk here. Some of your reasons for deletions about lack of sources made sense, others, which you don't highlight, include the like of (blah,blah,blah) and (bad link to Seymour which you'd know if...) Hardly helpful in the efforts here to improve this article. I'm glad that the external link to the illegal source of the story is gone (Phyllis and the crew at HOA: I did it all by myself mommy!). Sadly, the link was there for quite some time, a glaring no-no that wasn't removed until I did (although someone made the suggestion awhile back on this talk page and it's sad no editor heeded his advice). Let's hope it stays that way. As for the analyssis now, I've included Bloom because his criticism, though at times heavy-handed, will allow readers of this article to get some explanation of the intent of Seymour's suicide. The small quotes I've added give the article some grounding to the criticism, and all three are from a reputable source. Jim Steele (talk) 18:12, 1 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There was no anger in my message. I'll thank you to stop attempting to psychoanalyze my messages, especially given what a poor job you do of it. And please properly format your talk page responses, it's only common courtesy.
Now, to the matter. The comment about the bad link to Seymour was correct, and I reiterate that if you'd checked the link (which is part of editing carefully) you would have seen that it redirects to the Glass Family article, which means it is not a helpful link. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 04:02, 2 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

T.S, Eliot and Salinger's reference to myth of Cumaean Sibyl[edit]

Dear Jacobite - Slawenski considers the link to be self-evident; can you cite an authority that disputes his analysis? And who - other than yourself - considers it a "stretch"? 36hourblock (talk) 17:44, 1 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is up to you to prove that Slawenski's interpretation is notable. Is he a scholar on Eliot? Or, on Greek mythology? In the end, this is simply an opinion by Salinger's biographer. As such, it is deserving of, maybe, one sentence, not an entire section, which is made up mostly of quotes from Eliot's poem. I contend that this source is not enough to source such a bold and unique interpretation. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 18:25, 1 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you wish to supply analysis on the subject from an Eliot scholar, please do so. Same goes for Greek mythology. I don't have to prove anything, and your views are simply an opinion of a wiki editor, as are mine. Kindly refrain from removing the section until other editors have a chance to view it in situ 36hourblock (talk) 17:40, 8 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You obviously do not understand how this site works. I do not have to provide sources disputing that analysis. You have to provide adequate sources showing it is more than one writer's opinion. My opinion is irrelevant; the point is that this biography is not adequate to back-up that claim. It stays out 'til adequately sourced. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 18:18, 8 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Outside opinion: it is a Start-class article and, as expected, has undue weight given to certain parts. So an overly descriptive point shouldn't be a shock. What 36hourblock wrote could probably be stated more succinctly (in one paragraph) and certainly doesn't need a separate sub-section but the general point is valid and adequately referenced. The inclusion of the phrase Slawenski argues that ... makes it clear this is an opinion of one author. maclean (talk) 04:44, 11 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That the section is "adequately referenced" appears self-evident from the source provided. Invoking "undue weight" in a Start-class article is itself, well, "shocking". A Medieval ordeal is being prepared, in which the editor is expected to obtain another, then another source, to satisfy the Jacobite pretender. 36hourblock (talk) 17:56, 13 May 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Maclean's advice above was that it be reduced to one sentence and not have its own subsection, so why did you not follow said advice? That would have ended the matter last October. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 13:16, 14 May 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not so fast, Ol' J. Your most recent edit summary from the article invoked lack of sources as the reason you removed the entire section. You also misquoted Maclean: he says nothing about a "one sentence" rewrite. You've misrepresented both your position and Maclean's. Would you care to adopt a forthright and unambigous position on this matter? (Suggestion: use the impressive "authoritarian" approach for best results). 36hourblock (talk) 19:41, 15 May 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I never claimed that it was unsourced; I said that such a claim needed a better source. Then, yes, I did mistype "sentence" rather than "paragraph," but that was not part of some elaborate attempt at subterfuge and misrepresentation, it was simply an error. You need to assume good faith and stop making groundless accusations. But, quite frankly, I have tired of this entire matter. Do what you like. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 02:25, 16 May 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Very well. I shall, when I'm finished with my current rewrite project, return and, as per Maclean's and your suggestion, edit the material under the "Analysis" in a paragraph, without the stanza from the Eliot poem.
I would make this observation regarding Slawenski: The New Yorker readership of the late 1940s were quite familiar with the verse Mixing memory and desire from Eliot's The Waste Land. Salinger would not have included this striking fragment unless it had a key function in the short story. Slawenski offers a simple and elegant explanaation. To insist that "such a claim need[s] a better source" impeaches Slawenski's interpretation, and echoes reviewer Blake Bailey's pan of the biography.

36hourblock (talk) 23:16, 16 May 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

36hourblock, I think you are missing Jacobite's point here. You seem to be giving Slawenski's interpretation of the "Waste Land" quote in the story undue weight based on one reference. IN reality, the quote may in fact serve to symbolize all sorts of myths and symbols inherent in the Glass saga. But it may also just serve to show that Seymour Glass is well-read. In poetry. Nothing more, nothing less. Either way, these are opinions. And I'd warn against reading too much into inter-texual references in Salinger's works. And what about that pamphlet Muriel is reading? That article (Sex is Fun--Or Hell) What about that? There's plenty Slawenski leaves out, as any biographer does. In terms of Blake Bailey, it seems he is bitter someone beat him to the punch writing a Salinger biography, so he'll have to do what he does best--write about other people.Jimsteele9999 (talk) 00:00, 31 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I beg your pardon? I have "read" exactly nothing into this article - Slawenski has, however. Your view is an "opinion", not his.

Consider this from the article's lede: "Salinger embarked upon a major reworking of the piece, adding the opening section with Muriel’s character, and crafting the material to provide insights into Seymour’s tragic demise.[5] Salinger, in frequent consultation with editor Gus Lobrano, revised the story numerous times throughout 1947..."

If you discuss the matter with a T.S. Eliot scholar, you will discover that every word of the famous poem had been vetted for meaning. Salinger did not just pull a verse fragment from The Waste Land gradtuitously. Pause for a moment. Would not the publisher likely ask: "Why this verse, rather than one of the tens of thousands of verses, in the thousands of poems you are familiar with, Jerome?" Go figure.

Salinger's prose is highly compressed, much like lyric poetry. Intuitively, do you really think that mixing memory and desire, familiar to so many literate readers, is merely included to flatter them? If so, locate a source that makes such a claim; I'm dying to see it.

36hourblock (talk) 21:37, 6 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Interestingly, nothing in your response serves to back up your original claim. Sure, Slawenski notes Salinger re-worked the piece. Nothing surprising there. He had input from an editor at the New Yorker. Okay. The opening section of the story, as you say, has more to do with Muriel's character. That's right. The dialogue and detail I mentioned previously. Nothing about Elliot. Rilke, maybe, but nothing that an "Elliot scholar" would find much use of. And no, I think a publisher would have thought twice before asking "Jerome" about something with such little significance in a short story. You're still not following Jacobite's sound advice, not to rely on just one biographer's interpretation on this story.Jimsteele9999 (talk) 01:06, 17 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comment: - 36hourblock reached out to me for my opinion on the matter a few weeks ago noticing that I've worked and commented on many of the Eliot-related articles. I hadn't had the time to attend to it until today--and it's first time I've read the Bananafish story since my teens. Eliot is one of the most-quoted poets and often by too many authors who aren't using a quote properly in context or just looking to appear or sound profound. Salinger, sadly was both (not only my assessment, Bob Giroux--his old editor--said it in a ton of interviews). Yes, it is from lines 2 and 3 of the Waste Land, but the entire connection seems to end there. IMO, I think the assessment of Slawenski is ambitiously fatuous. Kenneth Slawenski biography, while it qualifies here as a reliable source, isn't well-regarded by academics or critics, and it was panned in reviews (Slate, which tears apart amateur-hour errors and points to specific failings in his research (like not contacting certain people to close to J.D.S.), called it "hagiography"--essentially whitewashing hero-worship). Further, while it meets WP:RS, we should be cautioned that Slawenski isn't an academic and lacks suitable academic credentials to be taken as an expert. He's a self-described fan who runs a fan website and has had limited work as a journalist. As to the core of the question, I find that his assessment of comparing Salinger's Sybil to the Sybil at Cumae, from what I see, quite an exaggerated overreaching. Looking through the available literature, I could find no scholarly articles that make the Sybil connection. Further, it is apparent that Slawenski in his incomplete research seemed to pass over Salinger's obsession with Oscar Wilde who employed two characters named Sybil, one of which is more like the Bananafish character than Eliot's reference to classical antiquity. --ColonelHenry (talk) 23:41, 17 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • The only book that does mention it is: Christine Kerr, Bloom's how to Write about J.D. Salinger (New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism/InfoBase Publishing, 2008), 108-109. Which offers a point to discuss in class while reading Salinger. It does not establish the claim any further than to ask for comparative discussion on why Sibyl/Sybil wants to die. Given the writing of Kerr's book in 2008, and that Slawenski posits the question on his fan page before then, Kerr likely got the idea from reading his website (effectively a "feedback loop" if Slawenski was bolstered to include it in his biography after JDS's death) Between Kerr, Slawenski, and Wikipedia, that claim has taken on a life of its own. Most of the discussion on Bananafish in scholarly articles (see JSTOR), states that the reference to Eliot's Waste Land's "mixing memory and desire" (in which Eliot is channeling and mocking Chaucer, by the way...something that most critics don't pick up on) is a reference to Seymour, not Sybil, and sets a frame for Seymour's sexual frustration which mimicked the impotence of the Fisher King in Eliot's poem...and a lot of the scholars in the 50s/60s pointed out the similarities between Seymour and Joyce's Leopold Bloom from Ulysses.--ColonelHenry (talk) 03:23, 18 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Where does it ever mention Bob Giroux was Salinger's editor? He's often referenced for notoriously passing on the manuscript of The Catcher in the Rye, but was never Salinger's editor. Moreover, even if true, I'd doubt second-hand sourcing of Salinger's "obsession" with Elliot (a claim I find dubious considering Salinger's work is replete with references to other author's works, yet Elliot shows up once.)Jimsteele9999 (talk) 14:46, 18 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Jim, I was just asked to give my opinion only because of the Eliot matter. I probably should have better phrased that--yes, I know Giroux passed on Catcher...after Salinger became difficult and because Giroux spotted holes in the Catcher plot that apparently Salinger didn't want to fix. But before that Giroux was attempting to develop Salinger (something he talks about often in interviews. (fyi: Giroux's other big wrong turn was telling Kerouac he had to edit the scroll of On the Road and Kerouac wouldn't have any of it. It was "holy writ" and inviolable.) I have no dog in this fight, but for dollars or donuts, independent of the debate regarding Slawenski's reliability arguing that Salinger based Sybil off of the Cumaean Sibyl because of Eliot it's seemingly farfetched claim. Considering the lack of credentials and harsh words people have said about Slawenski's work, I'd advise against relying on it too heavily for the purposes of this article (read: substantiate anything he says with more credible, expert sources before presenting it as gospel truth). The articles on JSTOR provide more Eliot analysis for the building of Seymour's character, none for Sybil. I added the matter regarding Oscar Wilde from my own observation, but I haven't ever seen anyone put that in a peer reviewed journal. But Sybil-Eliot-Sibyl...that's all I was asked for an opinion on, and that's all I have to add to this discussion. So, opinion posited, take it for what it's worth. Good luck with the rest of the article.--ColonelHenry (talk) 20:30, 18 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Sir, it goes without saying, if you will look at the history of this thread, I'm one of the voices advising against using Slawenski as RS. That being said, you are wrong about any "holes" in The Catcher in the Rye, either as manuscript or book. In terms of Giroux's alleged involvement--not that it matters much for the purposes of this article--they are less to do with any "fixing" of Salinger's work by Bob, and more about his lack of vision and proficiency in mishandling future classics. Not sure where you're getting your information, but you might want to start with this [1]Jimsteele9999 (talk) 01:24, 19 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I noticed your opposition to Slawenski, we have no quarrel. 36hourblock asked my opinion and should be surprised that you and I agree on the issue. As the article gets revised to reflect the outcome of this discussion, Slawenski will likely be marginalized, and I hope you and your fellow contributors use some of the articles on JSTOR from the 50s and 60s about the story (there are about ten that are exceptionally useful for the development of this analysis section). Sadly, I am familiar the TPR interview, it's one of four different versions of the story that Giroux gives. I will agree with you on his lack of vision. He is considered one of the better editors, but he's no Maxwell Perkins. --ColonelHenry (talk) 02:14, 19 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Sir, if you have access to any of the versions Bob gives, I'd be happy to read them. Interestingly, this is the only one that's been told, published and quoted. Like I said, besides Giroux botching the publishing deal of the century by putting a masterpiece of fiction in the hands of a textbook department, I don't see any other version, especially one where a guy like that would be able to spot any inconsistencies in a master's work.Jimsteele9999 (talk) 00:39, 21 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Response: I invited ColonelHenry to comment on the matter of the legitimacy of biographer Slawenski ‘s assertion that an “unmistakable” connection existed between T.S. Eliot’s depiction of the Cumaean Sibyl of Greek myth in The Waste Land and Salinger’s story of the Bananafish. He was gracious enough to provide commentary on the subject. This much is certain: ColonelHenry was no ringer I engaged to bolster the Sybil/Sibyl link – that should be clear by reading his analysis. I am bound by good faith to defer to his opinion on this matter.

I especially appreciated this observation: “Looking through the available literature, I could find no scholarly articles that make the Sybil connection.” Excellent. And this, too, was very constructive: “As the article gets revised to reflect the outcome of this discussion […] and I hope you and your fellow contributors use some of the articles on JSTOR from the 50s and 60s about the story (there are about ten that are exceptionally useful for the development of this analysis section).” (my ellipsis)

I shall not, therefore, object if editors remove the existing material in the Analysis section; its revival would be contingent upon the discovery of an additional source to support the Slawenski’s claims.

I extend my thanks again to the Colonel, and trust we may, in future “[drink] coffee and talk for an hour” on literary matters. 36hourblock (talk) 19:55, 23 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

To Jim and Jacobite - on the matter of sources, etc.[edit]

To Jimsteele9999 and The Old Jacobite (the latter no doubt following this exchange): Besides the good advice offered by ColonelHenry on The Waste Land, the rest is dross. It is unfortunate that he proceeded to pass judgments on Slawenski that border on character assassination - and worthy only of a graduate of Roger B. Taney’s “Academy of Obiter Dicta”. I would caution you both to recognize this specious critique of Slawenski for what is: an attempt to impeach Slawenski’s "credentials".

ColonelHenry cites one article from Salon – precisely the one I provided by Blake Bailey – to work up his claim that Slawenski is “ambitiously fatuous” and guilty of a “whitewashing hero-worship”. Rubbish. Just as offensive, and risible, is his unsubstantiated “feedback loop” theory regarding Christine Kerr. And what could be more “fatuous” than his assessment that “…Slawenski will likely be marginalized…” Ad hominem attacks against our sources are quite useless, and do little to improve these articles.

Enough said. Let us proceed to other topics.

Back up for a moment. In the last year or so, I’ve made a small project of rewriting the existing summaries for most of the works from Nine Stories. They had languished for years as little more that slightly improved stubs, and needed revision badly. Of course, I reread the stories for comprehension, and I used Slawenski’s sympathetic and “engaging” biography to write some analysis. No complaints arose, with the exception of Bananafish. As the editor "mcclean" pointed out, this is a “start-class article and, as expected, has undue weight given to certain parts.” More to the point, these recent rewrites have elicited some insightful edits and corrections. There will no doubt be increased interest in Salinger's early writing as the date for several posthumous publications approaches in 2015. (See the article by Sandy English at the WSWS,below).

I repeat: the Analysis section dealing with The Waste Land can be removed without objection from me. But generally speaking, let’s give these articles some latitude on the matter of contributions, as long as mainstream sources are provided. entirely inoffensive online source for Salinger admirers – so what? “ engaging biography...” Vanity Fair article by Slawenski Sandy English reviews the Shane Salerno documentary.

36hourblock (talk) 20:43, 23 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Sir, what I mean is that Slawenski is not someone to turn to when looking for a reliable source for all things Salinger. This goes for the matter pertaining to Elliot and Seymour Glass, as well as the type of chair Salinger sat in when he typed his work and his penchant for rainy days. A close, careful reading of the book will find many of his claims unsourced. Apparently he interviewed Salinger's ex-wife. Well, I am sure she gave an unbiased account of who he was. He did his homework relative to Salinger's war service, but what seems to concern you is this Elliot connection. And I think the Col. mentions Salinger was "obsessed" with the poet, too. Yet, there's no evidence of this. Anywhere. One could find Rilke mentioned, referenced, even lauded in his stories. But Elliot? And so what if both are mentioned? So what? It's your interpretation. Or Slawenski's.

Speaking of, these "sources" you list below consist of weak ones at best. (They were not posted as "sources", only related material apropos of our discussion) 36hourblock (talk) 20:50, 27 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lastly, thanks for your work on the Nine Stories, but no need to announce a certain date for posthumous publication of work. We don't have a crystal ball, do we? This is merely a claim in the new biography--one they say's based on "two independent sources." Well, that's not enough for me. Is it for you? If so, fine. But if I were you, when it comes to Salinger, I wouldn't believe everything you read. Jimsteele9999 (talk) 01:08, 25 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Excellent advice. I'll certainly keep that in mind when I scan your literary gems.
On the matter of the posthumous works, Sandy English of the World Socialist Web Site reports: "...a number of posthumous works by J. D. Salinger will be published after 2015, including A Counterintelligence Agent’s Diary, presumably based on his experiences in de-Nazification; A World War II Love Story, apparently dealing with his marriage to Sylvia Welter; A Religious Manual, about his discovery of Hinduism; and The Complete Chronicle of the Glass Family, new short stories about his recurring character Seymour Glass."
"Good-bye, Mr. Bond." 36hourblock (talk) 20:50, 27 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Sadly, it appears you have missed the entire point of our threads. The difference between a reliable source and one that is not. Regardless, the conjecture about Elliot in the article is now gone, and the article is now better off.Jimsteele9999 (talk) 15:26, 28 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Salinger and Eliot, continued[edit]

Literary editor Joel Salzburg reports that John M. Howell, in his essay “Salinger in the Waste Land” purposefully “derived the controlling metaphors of The Catcher in the Rye from T. S. Eliot’s [poem] The Waste Land. And further, Howell “to establish his argument…appended three epigraphs to his essay from Salinger’s fiction, two of which, “The Inverted Forest” and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” do in fact make allusions to Eliot’s poems.”[2] The epigraph of interest here, provided by Howell is this: “Ah, Sharon Lipschutz…How that name comes up. Mixing memory and desire…Sybil, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll see if we can catch a bananafish.” [3]

Warren French, a Salinger scholar includes, in his book on Salinger, a chapter entitled “You, T. S. Eliot” linking The Inverted Forest, as does Howell, to The Waste Land.[4]

Ian Hamilton acknowledges the connection between Salinger’s Sybil, and the Cumaean Sybil when he writes that the character “...deserves her name...” [5]

One editor (see preceding exchange) made this complaint: “And what about that pamphlet Muriel is reading? That article (Sex is Fun--Or Hell). What about that?”

Literary critics Bernice and Sanford Goldstein answer it this way: “In the bananafish story Seymour’s dreadful dilemma is revealed. But the earlier drifting allusion to Eliot’s The Waste Land, ‘Mixing memory and desire’, returns the reader to the opening scene of Muriel’s conversation with her mother. That the world outside of Seymour is ruled by dichotomies is suggested in the paragraph reference to the article Muriel has just finished reading, ‘Sex is Fun – or Hell’”…”

Goldstein has explained her connection to the T.S. Eliot poem as a significant one; Slawenski has done the same with regard to T.S. Eliot. Neither position is merely “opinion”. It’s part of the analysis by reputable scholars on the topic.

Unfortunately, some editors have hardened their positions on the matter, as if their Wiki reputations are on the line. Worse, this attitude is presented as “intellectual integrity”. Nonsense.

If the section is deemed objectionable, kindly report it to Dispute Resolution for a ruling. 36hourblock (talk) 19:15, 3 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Plan for Revision[edit]

  • We are going to contribute to this article by creating a background section as well as a criticism and reception section.
  • Bibliography:
  • Fassano, Anthony. "Salinger's A PERFECT DAY FOR BANANAFISH." The Explicator 66.3 (2008): 149-50. ProQuest. Web. 20 Apr. 2018.
  • Cotter, James Finn. "A Source for Seymour's Suicide: Rilke's Voices and Salinger's Nine Stories." Papers on Language & Literature, vol. 25, no. 1, Winter 89, p. 83. EBSCOhost.
  • Alsen, Eberhard. A Reader's Guide to J.d. Salinger. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.
  • Rosenbaum, Ron. "The Flight from Fortress Salinger." New York Times Book ReviewOct 08 2000: 16,7.16. ProQuest. Web. 20 Apr. 2018.
  • “JD Salinger.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 19 Aug. 2015,
  • Morrice, Polly. “Descended From Salinger - Books - Review.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Mar. 2008,
  • Salerno, Shane, and David Shields. Salinger. Simon & Schuster, 2014.
  • Malcolm, Janet. “Justice to J.D. Salinger.” The New York Review of Books,
  • Judis, John B. “The Salinger Generation.” The New Republic, 30 Jan. 2010,
  • Salinger, J. D. “A Perfect Day For Bananafish.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, --Mmeyer7 (talk) 15:52, 20 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Future Revisions[edit]

There remains to be some work done here and this article could benefit from a characters section seeing that the members of the Glass family carry over to more Salinger short stories; someone could even link to the page about the Glass family already created. The reception and criticism section could use more information from a breadth of sources. Most criticism and analysis of the short story focus on Seymour, but it would be nice to see scholarly criticism about other events or characters referenced. The plot summary section should be cleaned up; for a short story, this section is too long and wordy. The introduction section states some background knowledge that might be more useful in the new background section. Lkobus (talk) 14:08, 7 May 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ "A Perfect Day For Bananafish" § 51-52
  2. ^ Salzburg, 1990, p. 8
  3. ^ Bloom, 2007, p. 54
  4. ^ French, 1963, p. 71
  5. ^ Hamilton, 1967, p. 28: “Only a few of these details can be mentioned, but most prominent is the graded list of women in the story. The youngest, the three-and-a-half Sharon Lipschutz, has Seymour’s entire approval. He mentions her to Sybil Carpenter to chide Sybil over her incipient jealousy and lack of feeling for others, especially animals. Sybil, slightly older, is still young enough to deserve her name. Prematurely wise, she knows his name is “See more.”


Cited in footnotes[edit]

  • Bloom, Harold. 1997. J.D. Salinger: Modern critical views. Chelsea House Publishers, New York. ISBN 0-87754-716-5
  • Bloom, Harold. 2007. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in Bloom’s Guides. Chelsea House Publishers, New York. ISBN 978-0-7910-9296-5
  • French, Warren. 1963. J.D. Salinger. Twayne Publishers. Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Hamilton, Ian. 1967. J.D. Salinger: A Critical Essay. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Salzburg, Joel. 1990. Critical Essays on Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. G.K. Hall & Co. Boston, Massachusetts