In “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” Seymour Glass’ involvement in the war alters his state of mind and causes him to become psychologically unstable. While on a vacation with his wife, Seymour interacts with a little girl named Sybil Carpenter on the beach and, “pick[s] up one of [her] wet feet, which [was] drooping over the end of the float, and kissed the arch” (16-17). This small gesture demonstrates Seymour’s appreciation towards the youth and innocence of Sybil. Her foot symbolizes Seymour “kissing” his stability goodbye and highlights how Salinger informs the reader of Seymour’s madness.
Seymour is finally unable to cope with his insanity at the end of the story, when he, “went over and sat down on the unoccupied twin bed…aimed the pistol, and fired a bullet through his right temple” (18). Seymour’s realization of his loss of innocence after fighting in the war is the major drive for his suicide. He is unable to cope with his feeling of alienation from both his wife and the world. This feeling can also arise through the death of someone important in your life.
In “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” Eloise’s inability to overcome the death of Walt in the war emphasizes her bitterness towards the world and especially towards her daughter, Ramona. When Ramona replaces her old imaginary friend, Jimmy Jimmereeno, for Mickey Mickeranno and leaves room on her bed for her imaginary friend to sleep, “Eloise grab[s] [her] ankles and half lifted and half pulled her over to the middle of the bed…she picked up Ramona’s glasses…[and] put the glasses back on the night table, lenses down” (37).
Eloise is immediately angry that Ramona replaces Jimmy because she cannot replace Walt. Ramona’s glasses symbolize her vision of reality and that she can “see” better than her mother due to her ability to replace someone that does not exist anymore and the position of the glasses facing downwards emphasizes how Eloise does not want Ramona to see the reality of the world and her life. When Eloise leaves Ramona’s room, she asks her friend, Mary Jane, “I was a nice girl, wasn’t I? ” (38). Eloise has come to a realization that her cold, vindictive personality was a result of the loss of Walt in the war.
Her inability to move on from Walt’s death inhibits her from making deep connections with people and causes her to take it out on others. People can also change the way they act in order to cope with the losses of war. In “Just Before the War with the Eskimos,” Franklin tries to cope with his inability to fight in the war due to his disability through the way he acts and his interactions with other people. When Ginnie comes over to Selena’s house, her brother Franklin tells her that he can not fight in the war and “tapped the left side of his chest, ‘Ticker…working in a goddamn airplane factory’” (48).
Franklin feels like less of a man because he cannot fight in the war, which forces him to work in an airplane factory where mostly women and gay men work. He emphasizes his masculinity by cussing and smoking cigarettes because it separates him from the people he always has to be around. Franklin has a small cut on his finger and Ginnie suggests, “Why don’t you put on a Band-Aid on it? Don’t you have any Band-Aid or anything? ” (49). The Band-Aid symbolizes how Franklin tries to cover up being disabled and weak through the way he acts and the way he wants to perceive himself.
He wants Ginnie and the world to think that his disability does not affect him but in reality, it hinders him from what he really wants to do in life, which is fight in the war. Many war related issues can affect a person’s life in many negative ways. In wartime, soldiers are called upon to fight for their country in order to defend their homeland and their pride but, inevitably, the most important issue constantly weighing in their minds is the fight for survival. Although soldiers suffered on the battlefield, many soldiers experienced physical and psychological stress after the war.
Their families were greatly affected by the changed state of minds after coming back from war and the loss of loved ones. Seymour was not able to come to terms with his loss of innocence after the war and kills himself. Eloise confronted the loss of Walt by evolving into a resentful person. Franklin’s coped with his disability by exuding a masculine personality and flexing his persona in order to fit the mold of society. Seymour, Eloise, and Franklin all display how war is not only a plea for patriotism, but also an emotionally rigorous plight for the people involved in it.