The Hellish Search Bound in Despair Essay

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Walter Percy’s The Moviegoer is the fascinating depiction of a bizarre bird, Binx Bollings, a New Orleans’s stockbroker, who is driven by a search. There are two kinds of searches Binx is concerned with, a vertical search and horizontal search. Through them, Binx strives to transcend “everydayness,” as well as existential despair, hopelessness, and malaise. He fears being content in life because he does not want to loose his individuality and become invisibly dead—a fear he eventually accepts. In this paper, I shall argue that Binx Bollings abandons the vertical search because the vertical search is his descent in hell, similar to Dante’s Inferno, and once he reaches his circle of Hell, he is stuck in an eternal horizontal existence—unlike …show more content…
The object of Binx’s horizontal search is rather ambiguous, however, he does mention its relations to despair and God:
To become aware of the possibility of a search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair…. What do you seek—God? You [the reader] ask with a smile. I hesitate to answer, since all other Americans have settled the matter for themselves and to give such an answer would amount to setting myself a goal which everyone else has reached—and therefore raising a question in which no one has the slightest interest. Who wants to be dead last among one hundred and eighty million Americans? 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…it is the fear of exposing my own ignorance which constrains me from mentioning the object of my search…Am I, in my search, a hundred miles ahead of my fellow Americans or a hundred miles behind them?

While Binx does not embrace God as the object of his search, as the answer to his question of “Who am I?,” he is on a mission to escape the routine things common to all, everydayness. He is well read in scientific books, as well as the Great Books, but even that does not provide the answer for him. Binx does not want to be similar to his mother, who deals with the existential shocks of life through religion, nor like his Aunt Emily,

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