At the beginning of the novel, Binx comments on his ideal citizenry and the fact that even as an ideal citizen people do not necessarily recognize or acknowledge him. Speaking about his life in Gentilly, Binx says, "I am a model tenant and a model citizen and take pleasure in all that is expected of me" (6). He lists all of the pieces of identification he carries (library card, driver's license, and credit cards) and the ones he keeps safe in his house (birth certificate, diploma, stock certificates, etc.). Of these items, Binx says, "It is a pleasure to carry out the duties of a citizen and to receive in return a receipt or a neat styrene card with one's name on it certifying, so to speak, one's right to exist" (7). Binx's thoughts on how society perceives him immediately made me think about Auden's "The Unknown Citizen," a poem that chronicles the life of JS/07 M 378. The numbered citizen worked hard, paid his union dues, served in the war, bought paper everyday, got married, bought material items, and had five kids. From all accounts and purposes, he lived the perfect, modern American Dream life. However, the narrator asks at the end of the poem, "Was he free? Was he happy?" After hearing about his life, this question seems rather absurd, and the narrator acknowledges as much, adding, "Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard." From the viewpoint of a detached, bureaucratic narrator, nothing appears wrong with JS/07 M 378's life, but from his view, something may have been amiss. Binx, in essence, correlates to JS/07 M 378, and we see from his point of view the struggles of the modern man to navigate a society that seeks to make him a number and not an individual that, no matter what outside appearances show, may be struggling with his very existence.
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Percy, Walker. The Moviegoer. New York: Faucet Columbine, 1996. Print.