Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Welford D. Taylor

Second Advisor

Dr. Teryl Givens

Third Advisor

Dr. Suzanne W. Jones


Walker Percy's Binx Bolling, of The Moviegoer, and Will Barrett, of The Last Gentleman and The Second Coming, are two Southern existential seekers who move from alienation and despair to create lives of meaningful commitment with the promise of fulfillment. Because of their similarities, we can trace a development in Percy's fiction which parallels the questor's development. These three books move from a preoccupation with death-in-life to a discovery of self and on to individual and cultural rebirth. Thus, The Moviegoer (1960) is about alienation and despair; The Last Gentleman (1966) is about the possibility of human relationships, friendships that develop out of an awareness of despair; and The Second Coming (1980) is about love and the promise of renewal. For Percy, the key to this development lies in the act of naming, or "symbolization": in the mystery of language and symbol lies the answer to man's being and purpose.