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Sunday, February 26, 2017
Seen Any of the Movies Mentioned in The Moviegoer?
Probably you heard of or even saw some of the movies and/or some of the actors; but if you read The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy, you probably noticed that there weren’t many movies mentioned in the book. This was a surprise to some Book Club members but not necessarily a weakness of the book, especially not for us; because the book was published in 1960, a long time before many of our favorite movies were released. Morna said she had been disappointed that there weren’t more movies in the book. Dennis noticed that the protagonist, Binx, referred to movies and actors often during his narratives, such as when he “…kept a Gregory Peckish sort of distance” from his secretary, Sharon, to whom he was attracted. Dennis mentioned Binx using a “Gregory Peck smirk” on Sharon later when he was going places with her.
There was a general theme of escapism throughout the book. The physical and mental adventures of the 30-year-old protagonist, Binx, included his love of movies for escape and distraction. Binx had few real friends and an occasional girlfriend, usually one of his secretaries. Carla pointed out that he had better relationships with people he didn’t know, such as a ticket-taker he had met at the movie theater and sent a Christmas card to. As Jan said when introducing the book, “everyday” was the enemy; there was a complex relationship in one’s life between the everyday and “rotations” and “repetition” within the rotations. Kate, close cousin to Binx, escaped everyday reality through sedatives. Perhaps Sharon’s outings with Binx and allowance of his attentions were her way of escaping her everyday boyfriend, who Binx liked at first sight and called “a Faubourg Marigny type,” and who Sharon eventually married.
The author of The Moviegoer, Walker Percy, was a physician who was afflicted with tuberculosis at an early age, when sanitariums were the best cure. Percy lived a long while after his diagnosis and his leaving the practice of medicine to become a writer. Percy’s character, Binx, had a deceased father who had been a physician. The Moviegoer is a coming-of-age story for the main characters, Binx and Kate, turning 30 and 26 years old, respectively. During the story, Binx’s aunt, the only real person in the book, according to Heather, encourages Binx to drop his work as a stockbroker and go to medical school. In the same dialog, the aunt talks about a researcher she knows and says that Binx has a “flair for research.” As narrator, Binx disputes this but continues to listen to his aunt, who does not actually suggest he go into research. Linda said she didn’t see Binx as a physician, because of his discomfort with relating to people. In the book, Binx and his aunt discuss Binx’s physician father. The aunt talks about his father as having a great mind somewhat like Binx and says that Binx’s father “…would have been much happier in research.” Thus, the author introduced the theme of Binx making life decisions as he came of age (30). In this chapter, Percy also built on the complexities of Binx’s relationship to his father and Binx’s own personality.
At the end of the book, the author added an epilogue. Binx married his cousin Kate, who he had been like an older brother to, and enrolled in medical school. There is discussion about Binx’s younger brother, a lot younger than Binx and a character who has added to the story, mostly through his relationship with Binx and his having a tragic illness. At the end of the epilogue, Kate set out on a streetcar to do an errand, which Angie mentioned as an accomplishment for Kate, who was timid. Angie noted also that a dialog between Kate and Binx indicated that Kate could function on such an errand but needed to obtain Binx’s reassurance before setting out.