Monday, August 31, 2009

Sybil Carpenter and "A Perfect Day for Bananafish"

I posted the following on our course Blackboard site and came across some really interesting parallels between the scene with Seymour and Sybil on the beach and the myth of Sybil:

re: Alternative Readings of Bananafish

I'd like to know if anyone had any alternative readings of Bananafish. As we have already discussed the narrator at least, if not also Seymour is eschewing materialism. But I think this interpretation alone leaves something to be desired. There is clearly a lot going on in the story, more than the critique on commercialization... There does seem to be something remarkably and oddly sexual about the scene between Sybil and Seymour, however this attraction between them might be better described as a reciprocal indulgence in childlike fantasy. Seymour is the one who sends Sybil off on the quest for the fictitious bananafish. And he clearly is indulging in a bit of escapism, the talk about Little Black Sambo and the bit about chewing on candles...

There is also the post-war issue addressed in numerous other works. I am just wondering if anyone has any other ideas about the story??

*PS Some more information on the name Sybil:
In this story Aeneas flatters Sybil (Sharon Lipshutz) in order to obtain passage to the Underworld. Sybil leads Aeneas to the Underworld. At this point, Aeneas is a war hero (Seymour!) and he has to retrieve the Golden Bough (Whirlywood, Connecticuit) ["You have no idea how clear that makes everything!"] before entering the Underworld. They have to pass Cerberus of course (the little Canadian bull dog in the lobby) and Sybil explains that getting into the Underworld is easy, it is getting out that is hard (the Bananafish dying for lack of getting out of the hole).

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