Walker Percy's The Moviegoer
Walker Percy is the author of The Moviegoer, which is written about a young man named John Binkerson Bolling otherwise known as Binx. He is the main character who grows up in New Orleans. He is a moviegoer who is on a search but the object of his search is not clear. The people he encounters help him along the way, especially his stepbrother Lonnie and an African American man. The Moviegoer takes place during Mardi Gras when Binx discovers that something more is needed in his life.
The story begins with Binx receiving a letter from his Aunt Emily saying that they need to have a talk. This talk is about his cousin Kate who Aunt Emily is worried about. She has been “moping around the house” ever since her fiancé’s death and Aunt Emily wants Binx to cheer her up (28). She wants him to treat Kate as he did before and joke around with her to make her laugh and smile. She has been staying inside and has not interacted with people in a while.
On Binx’s way to his aunt’s house, “the idea of a search occurs to” him (13). “The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something” (13). But what exactly is Binx onto? Binx doesn’t know and doesn’t reveal the purpose of his search because he fears “exposing (his) own ignorance” (14). Is this search about God? Binx “hesitates to answer, since all other Americans have settled the matter for themselves and to give such an answer would amount to setting himself a goal which everyone else has reached – and therefore raising a question in which no one has the slightest interest. For, as everyone knows, the polls report that 98% of Americans believe in God and the remaining 2% are atheists and agnostics – which leaves not a single percentage point for a seeker” (13, 14).
Binx’s search continues through his attraction to the movies that “are onto the search, but throw him further from the truth. The search always ends in despair” (13). The movies are a way for him to fill the emptiness in his life. They give him incite into others lives and into his own life. “Before I see a movie it is necessary for me to learn about something about the theater or the people who operate it, to touch base before going inside” (74). This helps him learn more about how others live and learn more about life, which helps him move further along in his search. As a moviegoer, he only goes to movies with Kate and Lonnie because they know not to talk. Lonnie and Binx can communicate in silence. They know what each other are thinking during the movie and can share moments together without speaking.
Binx relates being a moviegoer to being Jewish based on evidence; “a sociologist reported that a significantly large percentage of solitary moviegoers are Jews” (89). He believes he “had been a Jew in a previous incarnation . . . Anyhow it is true that I am Jewish by instinct” (89)....