The Unknown Citizen

by W. H. Auden

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In "The Unknown Citizen," what does the Bureau of Statistics say about the citizen?

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According to the Bureau of Statistics, the unknown citizen was a model worker who served the greater community well.

He was a good worker who never got fired, and he "satisfied his employers" immensely as an employee. According to the Bureau, the unknown citizen was socially popular, fully insured, and resistant to extreme or unpopular convictions. By all indications, the unknown citizen adhered to socially-accepted views about popular life and culture. He was said to have bought a paper everyday while he lived and to have reacted to advertisements predictably.

The unknown citizen was also regarded by the Bureau as the stereotypical model citizen who never veered from the truths his government expected him to adhere to: "That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;/ When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went."

Last, but not least, the unknown citizen was said to have had five children, the "right number for a parent of his generation." He was also said to never have interfered in his children's education, a fact that the Bureau finds especially commendable. In all, the Bureau views the unknown citizen as the ideal citizen.



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