Journal: The Unknown Citizen

PosterĄG Julie Cheng at 22:55:59 12/2/97 from

The Unknown Citizen

Hello! Ray. I'm always happy to find your response to my journal in my mailbox and read it. You're such a kind man that gives me nice compliment on my journals, even they are no good at all. I can see that you're not that satisfied with my analysis. I have been too slow to catch up and learn the material you wish us to read, including all the short stories and poems. I'm kind of disappointed in myself. But I'll work hard and hope you can understand that I've been trying to learn all you teach. I'm really grateful to your wonderful teaching, patience and kindness. Thanks, Ray!
I guess I better start now, or you'll skip my journal hereafter!J The poem "The Unknown Citizen" seems to be a brief biography that is narrated. He was no big shot, but in contrast of "unknown," people do know him well. According to all the statistics and reports listed in this poem, we can find out and form a basic understanding of this "unknown" guy. He obeyed social norms and conformity. He was nobody but one of the "sheep" and a conformist as well, so I think this is one of the reasons that make him unknown.
He wasn't special, and neither did he "betray" the society. Through his life he did things by following the rules which were approved by the society. He thinks he kind of lost his individualities. This man was really pathetic, and many of us are the same with him. He is like a mirror, a reminder that reflects the way we are and how we ignore individualism.
Now I'll try to analyze line by line. The first two lines shows that he was a plan and obedient citizen, for he never gave official complaint. How could one person be satisfied with the government, the people and the society? This is really ironic. In my opinion, he was such a blind and overcautious person. But on the other hand, he could be only cautious, and this was his virtue, so line 3 to 5 says, "he was a saint" and "For in everything he did he served the Greater Community." He seemed to devote himself to the society, but how could one be so perfect that never is selfish and did things for his own good? In line 6 to line 8 show that he could be a hard working man. In line 9 and 10 we can find his self-image which was not bad, and line 11 tries to convince us by saying, "(Our report on his Union shoes it was sound.)" He also viewed himself as a nice man. In line 12 to 15 show that he was an ordinary person like others read paper everyday and liked to drink a bit, and this is acceptable. In line 16 to 21 we can see that he could be one of the middle class that led a nice life, both physical and material. But how about his mental and spiritual needs? Were they ever met? Line 22 to 24 can connect to line 1 and 2. He always conformed and changed his attitude to fit the big environment. In line 25 to 27 shows that he could be a good father, and even did it right in the number of children.
But the last two lines wake readers up from the wonderful imagination of this man. "Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd; Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard." The speaker seems to doubt and challenge the statistics and reports, but he also tries to convince himself by think the question is absurd, and there can't be wrong because he hasn't heard anything like that. He is hypnotizing himself and all people are in hypnosis to believe such a person was good. The government and the society try to control its people by showing some facts, which aren't necessarily true. The citizen was formed to be perfect and became a model. If people fallow he, they lost their individualities like him. But it is really hard to be oneself in the society, instead of playing the "role" that is expected. I guess I am an unknown citizen as well, for I almost fallow like him. This isn't totally pathetic; at least we're willing to fallow, and nobody forces us to do so.


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