Nine Stories written by J. D. Salinger, is a collection of nine short stories. We are going to look in more detail at three of the stories: “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” and “Just Before the War with the Eskimos.”
“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” is the first short story in the book. A woman called Muriel Glass is staying at a hotel room in Florida with her husband. The story begins at the hotel room. The young woman is waiting for a phone call from her mother. When the call finally gets to her, her mother keeps asking her questions about her husband, Seymour. Muriel’s mother right from the beginning makes us notice her concerns about Seymour. It makes us also feel worried about Muriel as her mother keeps talking only about Seymour. It is the central topic.
We learn that Seymour has psychiatric dis- orders and mental issues as he had just recently been let out from the hospital. He was part of the World War II army. The mother keeps telling her daughter that that Seymour “may completely lose control of himself”. Muriel keeps telling her mother that she is exaggerating too much and that she can perfectly handle her husband’s behaviour.
Then, the setting of the story changes to the beach. Seymour is at the public beach where we meet Sybil Carpenter. “She was wearing a two piece bathing suit, one piece of which she [did] not [need].” This little girl speaks with Seymour and goes to the water with him. We immediately know that little Sybil is a spoiled kid as she re- proaches Seymour for letting another girl called Sharon Lipschutz, sit with him the night before at the piano while he was performing.
Finally, Seymour gets in the water with Sybil and tells her about the “Bananafish.” He tells her they are like ordinary fish but they eat bananas. They look for the food in holes in the sand, but when they try to get out of the hole they are too fat and therefore die as they are trapped. The little girl believes this bizarre story and claims she actually saw one.
After leaving the beach, Seymour returns to his room where his wife, Muriel lies asleep. This is when he kills himself with a pistol he had in his luggage.
In this short story we can see how the theme innocence runs thoroughly throughout the story. We can notice how the curious and pure world of children contrasts with the selfish world of adults.
I loved about this short story the imagina- tion that was put into it. The author does a great job making us infer the mental problems Sey- mour has. The main plot of the story is great and catches my attention from the first line. I would really recommend this short story.
The second short story, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” is about two female friends who left school the same year due to different reasons. The two women meet and while having a lot to drink, discuss one of the girls’ love crisis.
One tells us how much she loved Walt Glass when she was single. She tells her friend how much she regrets marrying her former hus- band Lew, and not Walt. However, we discover that Walt got killed and she tells us all her unfor- gettable moments with Walt. After drinking all afternoon, they both fall asleep. After Ramona, the daughter of one of the women, walks in, her mother starts crying when she puts her to bed remembering Walt.
This short story is obviously much more dramatic. We learn about their lives and we really want to know what is going on. The fact that both of the characters are drunk, gives the whole story a twist as we don’t know if what they are saying is fully reliable.
We can notice that both women aren’t mature enough as they escape their problems by drinking alcohol. This gives us a bad impression about the main characters.
The third story, “Just Before the War with the Eskimos”, is about two girls called Serena and Ginnie. They are high school classmates and they play tennis together every Sunday. However, Ginnie thinks the right thing to do is to tell Serena that it was about time for her to pay Ginnie back all the money she owes her from the cab. So we get told how Ginnie tells Serena in the cab when they are coming back from their usual tennis match that she wants her money back.
The story is mainly focused on the conver- sation between Ginnie and Franklin, Serena’s brother. They met at Serena’s house as she had to go in to get the money Ginnie was asking for. She discovers that Franklin knew Ginnie’s sister, Joan. Our first impression of her isn’t very good as Franklin curses her as the “Queen” of the snobs. Franklin also tells Ginnie that he dropped out of school and that he couldn’t get into the army due to heart problems.
At the end of the story Serena appears again but Ginnie changes her mind and doesn’t want the money anymore. She then invites her- self again that same afternoon to Serena’s and Franklin’s house.
This story I didn’t enjoy as much as the oth- ers. The other two stories grabbed my attention more than this one. However, it was very well written with powerful adjectives and verbs. It was narrated in the third person and the most noticeable theme in this story is rejection. We can see again and again the rejection of some- thing. For example, Franklin rejected society as he dropped out of school and he got rejected by the army.
In all three stories war is present in the background. This gave negative aspects to the characters. A clear example is in the first story. Seymour committed suicide due to the war. Going to the war for Seymour just gave him mental problems making his experience in the army bad and prejudicial for him.
To conclude, I think that Tennessee Williams has a very clear and comprehen- sible writing style. This enables us to fully understand the story and makes us feel like we are part of the play.
In conclusion, we can definitely learn and enjoy a lot from “Nine Stories.” I recommend it to every single person as it is really entertaining and well written.