A Literary Analysis of the Glass Family

A Literary Analysis of the Glass Family: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness American Writer J. D. Salinger is most well known for his 1951 work of Catcher in the Rye. Barring public opinion, and relying on my own, Salinger’s best work was his creation of the Glass family. Giving birth to this fictional family with the introduction and sudden suicide of the eldest member of the Glass family, Seymour, Salinger continued publishing stories about the Glass until 1965. The story of the Glass family is a complicated one, and is intertwined in a myriad of novellas and short stories.

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The members of the Glass family: Seymour, Buddy, Boo Boo, Walt, Waker, Zooey, and Franny make up a rare breed. Salinger’s Glass family can be characterized through the abnormalities of everyday life that come with being a member of the family, the liberty caused by the “resurrections” that take place within the key members of the family, and the pursuit of happiness by Salinger himself in creating the family. When speaking of the Glass family the eldest child Seymour cannot be overlooked. Seymour Glass plays a pivotal role in the identity of the Glass family itself.

The first publication dealing with the Glass family is a short story entitled, “A Perfect Day for Bannanafish. ” The story begins with Seymour’s wife in a hotel room, talking on the phone to her mother about Seymour’s strange behavior. It then progresses to Seymour out on the beach talking to a little girl, Sybil Carpenter, and telling her a story about bananafish. At the end of the story Seymour walks back into the hotel room and kills himself. Conclusions about his suicide can be drawn from the story he tells Sybil about bananafish. His story of the bananafish that swims into the hole and consumes bananas until he is too fat too come out, and therefore must die, is a paradigm of his own situation. He is a bananafish, not because he has indulged his senses to the point of grossness, but rather because of his keen sensitivity to the overwhelming physicality of existence-his senses have been ravaged by the physical world, and he has found entrapped and must die (Miller 563). ” From this we not only learn the possible cause of Seymour’s suicide, but we also gain a greater insight into the Glass amily. They all have a distinct perception of the world around them. Their keen sensory causes almost an overload of emotions and feelings not perceived by anyone outside of the Glass family. Miller notes, “we come to see that for the Glasses sex must be hell (564). ” Seymour and the Glasses are emotionally and physically overwhelmed all of the time and common things like looking at someone’s feet, as seen in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” is perceived by the Glasses as an intimate occasion not to be fooled around with.


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