Nine Stories

Healing Innocence

In J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories, the author forces his readers to think and reflect, and to avoid simply taking any story at its face value. This is exemplified by the Zen koan he places at the very beginning of the book. Though we are never actually meant to solve the mystery behind every story (just as we aren't meant to solve the koan), we can certainly make observations and explore the rich ideas set before us. For one, Salinger juxtaposes the innocence of childhood with the corruption of adulthood, creating a powerful recurring theme in Nine Stories. In this manner, he elucidates the sad reality that the world in which we live is a breeding ground for the corrosiveness of adult preoccupations (such as war, material possessions, and racism), a corrosiveness that eats away at the purity and innocence of childhood.

"Perfect Day for Bananafish" starts off in the world of materialism, consumerism, and sex. The first scene depicts 97 New York advertising men staying in a hotel where a girl wearing a Saks blouse is reading a magazine article titled "Sex is Fun-or Hell." Within moments, war is introduced: we learn from the girl's phone conversation that her husband, Seymour Glass, was a soldier in...

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