Story Of A Personal Journey: “The Moviegoer” by Walker Percy

As a medium that allows one to communicate personal ideas and beliefs through different types of expression, art transforms people. “The Moviegoer” is a unique narrative in which two art forms collide, thus providing a masterfully written foil for the character development. The story of Blix Bolling, a New Orleans realtor, starts in a very mundane setting and with a plot that might seem as pointlessly meandering at first, yet, on further scrutiny, it allows its viewers to delve into the problem of faith and the search for one’s purpose. Despite often being viewed as meandering and lackluster, the story represents a unique journey of self-discovery and provides its readers with a satisfying ending.

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Although the novel could be described as slightly lackluster, there can be no doubt that the lead character compensates for the lack of action or tension in the book. The protagonist of “The Moviegoer” represents a unique character study on a person that has an identity crisis and struggles to find his place in society and meaning in his own existence. By the end of the novel, Blix remains doubting, yet he has a clear path in front of him, and he knows that his faith will lead him: “’What if I don’t make it?’ ‘Get off and walk home’” (Percy 243). Thus, while having an ostensibly unremarkable arc, Blix, in fact, provides a clear example of a person discovering the purpose of his entire life. The irony of him already living his purpose makes the ending all the more powerful.

The lack of explicit conflict in the novel is one of the characteristics that make “The Moviegoer” slightly contentious as a specimen of its genre. Indeed, on the surface, the novel appears to be a cadence of events that take place in Blix’s life as he takes a journey down the road on Mardi Gras. However, in a larger context, the plot can be seen as a metaphor for life itself. Blix wanders into the night without a sense of purpose, meets random people, and creates a rapport with some of them, enjoying an entire spectrum of emotions from happiness to sadness. The necessity to set clear goals and a transparent vision for his life seems a rather irritating concept to him (Marsh 19).

However, as he reaches the endpoint of his travel, he finally reconciles with his quite humble purpose. Thus, the story represents a not-quite-subtle metaphor for life itself and the endless search for the meaning thereof.

With the shift from one setting to another, the idea of Blix’s travel being a spiritual journey reverberates through every place that he visits. The abrupt and seemingly random nature of his choices seems to mirror the changes that force people to move and experience the concept[t of a journey. For instance, his decision to go to the Gulf Coast seems entirely unexpected and nearly out of place: “’I’m quitting now. I’ve got sixty miles to go before lunch.’ ‘Whereabouts you going?’ ‘To the Gulf Coast’” (Percy 121).

Thus, as Blix haphazardly tries to make meaning of his life by selecting random places to go, he actually lives his purpose without even recognizing it. As a result, when he reaches the endpoint of his journey, his understanding of his actual purpose does not come as a disappointment since he has already been building the platform for it without even recognizing it.

Although the stylistic choices that the author makes to convey the essential message of his novel might seem quite heavy and difficult for immediate comprehension, the style of “The Moviegoer” doubtlessly makes the novel easily distinguishable among other specimens of the genre. Percy’s use of traditional literary devices in the way that allows him to weave a complex narrative and convey a unique atmosphere is beyond remarkable. For instance, the use of a tool as simple as juxtaposition at the beginning of the novel sets the tone and pace for the entire narrative: “She was unhappy for the same reason I was happy—because here we were at a neighborhood theater out in the sticks and without a car” (Percy 8).

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The focus on the theater and the contradiction between the needs of the protagonist and his wife allows the reader to relate to the leading character immediately and sympathize with him and the lack of shared interest that he has with Linda.

Despite being often viewed as lacking tension and overall development, “The Moviegoer” is often deemed as far too ponderous and lifeless, it can be interpreted as a story of a personal journey that ends on an uplifting note of finding one’s purpose. “The Moviegoer” incorporates a range of unique stylistic choices that allow purporting the key idea clearly to the reader and amplifying the significance of its message. The book represents a unique case in which one type of medium and artistic representation of reality incorporates another and uses it to show the transition of its character from one philosophy to another. By focusing solely on character development in Blix’s search for the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, Percy introduces his readers to a new idea of a personal philosophy by depicting a surprisingly anticlimactic yet meaningful resolution of the lead character’s personal conflict.

Works Cited

Marsh, Leslie. Walker Percy, Philosopher. Springer, 2018.

Percy, Walker. The Moviegoer. Early Bird Books, 1961. Web.

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