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The Moviegoer

Binx Bolling has lived an uneventful life up until the plot of The Moviegoer and experiences joy in the mundane (“I am a model tenant and a model citizen and take pleasure in doing all that is expected of me.”) as well as in television and film (“I too once met a girl in Central Park, but it is not much to remember. What I remember is the time John Wayne killed three men with a carbine as he was falling to the dusty street in Stagecoach, and the time the kitten found Orson Welles in the doorway in The Third Man.”). Since returning from the war, Bolling has spent his time “working, making money, going to movies and seeking the company of women.” Bolling’s relationship with death, both before and during the war, has altered his perception of the world (“For some time now the impression has been growing upon me that everyone is dead. It happens when I speak to people. In the middle of a sentence, it will come over me: yes, beyond a doubt this is death.”).

Death is a constant theme throughout The Moviegoer; Bolling’s older brother died of pneumonia and his father was killed. Bolling experienced death himself during the war, though his description of the event seems as though he feels indifferent to the subject (“I was shot through the shoulder – a decent wound, as decent as any ever inflicted on Rory Calhoun or Tony Curtis. […] Decent except that the fragment nicked the apex of my pleura and got me a collapsed lung and a big roaring empyema. No permanent damage, however, except a frightening-looking scar in the hollow of my neck and in certain weather a tender joint.”) His cousin, Kate, has also had an experience with death, an experience that has caused depression and suicidal tendencies. Despite Bolling’s presumed indifference to the topic of death, the shared experience of survival unites them.

“She thinks you’re one of her kind.”

“What kind is that?”

“A proper Bolling. Jules thinks you’re a go-getter. But you don’t fool me.”

“You know.”


“What kind?”

“You’re like me, but worse. Much worse.”

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