The Unknown Citizen Essay

772 words - 3 pages

The Unknown Citizen

In "The Unknown Citizen," Auden is implying that people are statistics and easily conformed to the normality of society. Throughout the poem, Auden portrays the character as being an all around normal citizen and "one against whom there was no official complaint." In lines 4 and 5, the speaker describes the character as a "saint" and "for in everything he did he served the Greater Community." He served in war, never got fired from his job, popular with his mates, and "normal in every way." Auden develops the theme by describing the character's life through the research of different bureaus, researchers, and psychology workers. Each one of these descriptions point to the same idea that the character is a normal and obedient citizen. In line 10, the Union reports showed that he "paid his dues" and "it was sound." The "researchers in Public Opinion are content that he held the proper opinions for he time the time of year; when there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went." By using all these description from state bureaus and agencies, the author suggests to the reader the manner on which the character was looked upon by society and how he conformed to it. Also, by focusing on the descriptions of the character's life, the readers become more aware of their own lives and how their lives compare to his. This makes the poem intriguing and brings a more personal affect towards the reader.
One literary device the author uses is symbolism. This poem was written in 1940. During this time period the common occupation was a factory worker. In line 8, "Fudge Motors Inc" is the factory that the character works for. Also, in line 26, the character had "a phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire." These were all the things "necessary to the modern man." Auden uses these cultural symbols to accentuate the main idea of the poem. He wants the reader to realize the commonality of the character's lifestyle.
Another device that Auden uses is alliteration. In line 29, the speaker said "that he held the proper...

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