Picture walking into a hotel room and finding a man dead on a bed. Upon closer inspection it becomes obvious that he has supposedly taken his own life with the gun that lay beside him. In talking to his wife who was asleep on the bed next to him when this incident occurred, it is learned that he just walked in the door and shot himself late the previous night. Out of the many questions that could be asked from this story, I believe that it is probably extremely important to consider why the main character, Seymour Glass, decided to commit suicide.
What I believe to be the reason for Seymour’s suicide has two basic components: the spiritual depravity of the world around him, and his struggle with his own spiritual shortcomings. The spiritual problem of the outside world is mostly a matter of material greed, especially in the west, and materialism. On the other hand, his own spiritual problem is more a matter of intellectual greed and true spiritualism.
In addressing the suicide, the difference should be distinguished between the “See More Glass” that we see through little Sybil’s eyes, and the Seymour Glass that we see through the eyes of the adult world. Even though these two characters are in theory the same man, they are slightly different in some ways. You could also say that they are the same character in different stages of development. Whatever the case may be, the “reasons” for the suicide shift slightly in emphasis as the character changes.
“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” attempts to symbolize that the bananas in
See More Glass’s story represent all of the things which are taken in along the journey to adulthood. If pursued with too much zeal, these bananas can prevent spiritual development and lead to a greater materialistic development. See-More has realized that he cannot get rid of enough bananas to make any further spiritual progress in this life, so, rather than waste time, he commits suicide. This is slightly obvious when he is taking the elevator back
up to his room on the night of the suicide. His fixation upon his feet, which do not resemble the childlike feet that he desires to have, and the woman in the elevator’s scorn towards Seymour’s accusing her of staring at his feet, drive him to dislike the adult world even more.
Richard Rive’s The Bench Bench
Essay on Richard Rive’s “The Bench” Richard Rive was born in District Six in Cape Town. ” The Bench” is taken from his short story collection, “Advance, Retreat ” influenced by events during the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign from 1952 to 1953. The story starts with an exert from a speech that is held in Cape Town, South Africa. It is clearly part of a demonstration against the apartheid system. A large black man with a rolling voice says,” It is up to everyone of us to challenge the right of any law which wilfully condemns any person to an inferior position.” The lecture is held outdoors, most of the crowd being coloured. The main character in the story, Karlie, a black man, follows every word the speaker says. He doesn’t quite understand the full meaning of them, but realises that they are true words. The speaker tells Karlie that he has certain rights. The picture of himself living like a white man frightens him, but at the same time fascinates him. All he has ever been taught is that God made the white man white, the coloured man brown and the black man black and that they must know their place. The people on the platform behave as if there were no difference in colour. It makes sense, but still only in a vague way. All the time Karlie is comparing what is happening on the platform to his own situation back home. There, people of different colour could never offer each other a cigarette as a white woman does to a black man, up on the stage. The idea makes him laugh, getting him noticed by a couple of people. This shows that Karlie is not completely comfortable or at ease with all this new information. His upbringing is strongly embedded in him. Playing with the thought of being as good as any other man he remembers black opposers of apartheid going to prison, smiling. It confuses him. As a white woman speaker says, ” One must challenge all discriminatory laws,” Karlie grows more confident, fear and passivity are replaced with determination to act for equality.A white woman jeopardising all her advantages to say what she believes in. Never had he seen anything like this in his home town. A determination starts creeping over his vagueness. Now he wants to challenge, whatever the consequences. He wants to be in the newspaper smiling. This is a turning point in his life. After the meeting, on the way to the station, Karlie is on the receiving end of a nasty, racialist comment from an approaching car. ” Karlie stared dazed, momentarily too stunned to speak.” By reacting at all, it shows that he now questions this kind of treatment. To ” challenge” like the white woman speaker said, he sits on a “whites only” bench at the railway station. Although this story spans over a limited time, Karlie has gone through an extreme change in his life. He is now determined to fight for his own freedom as a human being. He rebels against his former upbringing imprinted in him and wants to find a new place in society for himself. This short story was written during the apartheid system. The bench at the railway station symbolises South African society at that time. Karlie refuses to move from the ” whites only ” bench and is therefore pulled away by the police. Under apartheid even mixed marriages were not allowed. Schools, restaurants and hotels were segregated. ” Bantu education” was enforced for black people in South Africa in 1953. The blacks were taught that they were less intelligent than other races. Karlie`s initial confusion while listening to the speech, can be linked to this form of brain washing. Many were opposed to this oppressive system. Karlie is of course alone in disobeying the police, but he represents all the black opponents of apartheid and racial discrimination. ” Karlie turned to resist, to cling to the bench, to his bench.” Karlie is not only holding on to a bench, but also to his own existence as an equal citizen of South Africa. ” It was senseless fighting any longer. Now it was his turn to smile.” Although Karlie looses his grip, he is not defeated. He smiles as he`s taken away. Karlie wins the battle with himself and is proud of showing his victory.