Nine Stories Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is Seymour hospitalized for?

While we don't know his exact mental problems that he is hospitalized for, we know that he is in Germany for World War II. Seymour is suffering from some mental problems ever since his release from the Army.

2. What does the reader learn about Muriel's mother during the "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" story?

The reader learns a lot about Muriel's mother during the phone conversation in the "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" story. We learn that she has a lot of fears in terms of her daughter's safety, yet she is able to switch to talking about fashion very quickly. She worries that Seymour is capable of hurting Muriel yet she easily gives up on the conversation.

3. What leads the reader to believe that tension is building throughout the story?

The reader is led to believe there is tension building in the story because of the way the author leads us down a path of uncertainty from the very beginning. First Muriel and her mother discuss the possibility that something is wrong with Seymour. Then he acts strangely with Sybil and then he gets angry with the woman in the elevator for no reason at all. One action leads us to another action that makes even less sense, building the reader's curiosity and the plot's tension.

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