The Unknown Citizen by Auden

I wanted to quickly touch base after today’s discussion. The connection that was made between the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the fictional monument of the Unknown Citizen was insightful. As the Unknown Soldier is a symbol used to remember “all” who have lost their lives in war, we can gather that the dedication of the monument in Citizen is used in a similar but slightly different way. Instead, our poem is using the monument as a symbol to remind society of what an “ideal” citizen should be.

If we can form a picture that the speaker is a group of people, possibly the government or some ruling party.  The speaker discusses “our researchers”  and “we should have certainly have heard” illustrating how they have built a trove of information on this “citizen.”  The factual picture, almost Eulogy, lacks emotional depth or any real personality to JS/07 M 378.  We find that their view of an ideal citizen is to fall into line, to not deviate or disagree, and to have the “proper opinions for the time of year.”It isn’t until the shift in the final two lines we begin to see any emotion.  

Our speaker’s questions “Was he free?  Was he happy?” come across as defensive, angry that one should question their view.  They cannot fathom the thought that anyone would want to live outside their view of this “saint” of a citizen.  Instead, the audience should immediately recognize that the essence of a person’s being is their ability to have free thought, to question, to find their own path independent of others.  Here we see the dangers of power (government, leaders, etc.) who try to force their followers into believing a single thought or a single idea.  

So… how does this connect to London?  to The Catcher In The Rye?


The Catcher In The Rye

Don’t forget, you should have finished reading The Catcher In The Rye by tomorrow. We will have our timed-essay during class. I’ll post it at the start of the period and you will have the entire period to write it. The essay will be worth 100 points based on the AP Rubric.

Also, don’t forget that your Major Works Data Sheet should be submitted as well. You can submit it in our Google Classroom assignment (Here).