Re: Throwing Rocks

From: Kevin Carter <>
Date: Fri Jan 03 2003 - 03:39:29 EST

I rarely bump up my old messages, but I thought with the recent lull around
here and the relatively few reactions that Daniel's worthy topic raised, it
was rather appropriate. I'm really curious about what all the rest of you
bananafish thought of the motivation behind Seymour's rock-throwing. Any
responses would be greatly appreciated.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kevin Carter" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2002 9:30 PM
Subject: Re: Throwing Rocks

> I doubt that I, a pedantic yet ignorant high school senior, can truly add
> great deal of psychoanalytical insight in this matter, but I'll try to at
> least do a little bit of character analysis. Thank god for Advanced
> Placement Literature classes, where one learns to assert misinformed,
> interpretations as gospel. "Salinger masterfully utilizes irony in the
> character of Seymour to bring about his deeper theme of the individual's
> strugg-- sweet Jesus. Stop me now. Princeton Review's AP Lit "idea
> machine" has eaten its way into my brain, eradicating any literary talent
> and creativity that ever existed within me. Not that there was really any
> to begin with.
> Anyway, I've always thought that his motivation for throwing stones might
> have been his dangerous level of sensitivity to all beautiful things. A
> primary example of this includes Seymour's apologetic returning of Sybil
> shore despite her insistence that she has not "had enough" of swimming
> shortly before his suicide (Nine Stories, 17). When this would occur,
> Seymour always felt the necessity to escape somehow, at risk of becoming a
> bananafish himself.
> Charlotte Mayhew, Seymour's fellow "wise child," was the impetus behind
> of these emotionally-wrenching incidents. In his journal, Seymour
> a day when Charlotte runs from him outside of the It's A Wise Child studio
> in a "yellow cotton dress [he] loved because it was too long for her"
> (RHTRBC, 75). Seymour consistently appreciates the flaws in Charlotte as
> individual, because they make her -- a woman that he indubitably loves --
> endurable to his aesthetic senses. Throwing stones at her did the same
> thing: it gave Seymour the opportunity to appreciate her beauty without
> becoming overly and harmfully captivated by it.
> As Mattis Fishman writes in a January 13, 1998 post to Bananafish:
> "In Charlotte's case, he was also overwhelmed by her perfection, and threw
> the rock, *not* out any desire to hurt her, or place a blemish on this
> transient world's false perfection, but rather in order to reduce the
> of Charlotte in the driveway to one which would not overwhelm him (sorry
> the same word, but I can't find a better one here). As though to cure his
> bananafever, he needed to ruin the bananas. This was a flawed reaction, an
> immature one, when contrasted to his behavior in Raise High, where he
> eventually gets married."
> Fishman's categorization of Seymour's motivation to throwing the rock is
> articulate and thoughtful, but it fails in its assertion that he is
> eventually ameliorated through his marriage to Muriel. Seymour never
> recovered from his banana fever. Oh, he may have suppressed it at times,
> but it was a chronic illness. His encounter with Sybil at the eleventh
> is the final symptom of his disease: oversensitivity to beauty.
> Thankfully for the reader, I didn't invoke Freud during my post, as I
> certainly would have been embarassed by my lack of psychological
> Instead, I came to my conclusion through archetypal reactions to beauty
> perfection. When we see a house of cards perfectly constructed, we stare
> it in awe, then feeling the need to blow it down. Same with a crème
> or a burning candle. We may feel this sensation on a significantly lesser
> level than Seymour did, but we feel it all the same.
> -
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Received on Fri Jan 3 03:42:58 2003

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