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Voice in the Narrative

In The Dialogic Imagination, Mikhail Bakhtin (p. 255) argues that the writer ôdoes his observing from his own unresolved and still evolving contemporaneity, in all its complexity and fullness.ö In the story ôA Perfect Day for Bananafish,ö J. D. Salinger provides us with the narrative of Seymour Glass, his unfulfilling marriage, and his suicide. In doing so, we see that SalingerÆs contemporaneity is still unresolved and evolving through a number of narrative techniques. Seymour Glass is sick of the phony people and values he finds all around him. A poet at heart, Glass views most people as greedy, selfish, and proud. He likens them to a mythical creature he shares the story of with a young girl he befriends, Sybil. The ôbananafish,ö Glass tells her ôlead a very tragic life. They swim into a hole where thereÆs a lot of bananas. TheyÆre very ordinary-looking fish when they swim in. But once they get in, they behave like pigs,ö (Salinger, p. 23). Through his narrative technique, Salinger illustrates his own evolving and unresolved contemporaneity through the characterization and construction of Seymour Glass.

Seymour Benjamin Chatman has defined three types of narrative discourse: 1) narrative; 2) descriptive; and 3) argument, (Fludernik, p. 277). All of these elements are illustrated in the narrative discourse provided by Salinger in ôA Perfect Day for Bananafish.ö Seymour Glass provides us with a recital or the relation of what it is like in his phony existence. It is a world where his wife is so sunburned from tanning that she ôcan hardly move,ö (Salinger, p. 9). The alleged health professional, the psychiatrist, spends life ôin the bar all day long,ö (Salinger, p. 11). Like his wifeÆs skin, the narrative discourse relates to us an environment in which people overexpose themselves to self-interest. As SeymourÆs mother-in-law tells us, it is an environment in which ôSeymour may lose complete contr...

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Voice in the Narrative. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:50, May 28, 2020, from