Nine Stories

seymour's death

why does seymour commit suicide?

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This apparent lack of motive is at the heart of the critical debate on the story. Some readers find Seymour's wife, Muriel, partially to blame, as her self-interest seems to overshadow what should be her wifely concern for her troubled husband. Others view Seymour as something of a guru, a man wise enough to know that his world can only corrupt him and who, therefore, and escapes from it. Also plausible is the idea that Seymour is like the bananafish he describes: a man so glutted (with horror or pleasure) that he can no longer survive. Multiple interpretations are possible, which makes the story's meaning ripe for debate, a much-disputed point for both professional critics and casual fans. Regardless of what specific motive a reader assigns to Seymour's suicide, he or she is sure to be involved in Salinger's elaborate game of symbols, colors, and other indirect means of storytelling.