Of all Tyler’s characters, Macon Leary, the protagonist of The Accidental Tourist, is undoubtedly the one most obsessed with routine. A travel writer who hates to travel, he has developed guides for other travelers who want to reproduce their home environments as much as possible when they are abroad. Leary’s life has been based on the assumption that he could outwit chance simply by planning carefully. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the novel, his only child has been killed in a random crime at a fast-food store, and, unable to cope with the death, Macon’s wife, Susan, has left him.
Macon’s first impulse is to order his household; however, his efforts at efficiency are less than successful, and he ends up with a broken leg. With considerable relief, he moves into the orderly household his sister, Rose, runs for their two brothers. The portrait of the four Leary children, all of whom have now returned home, symbolizes the security that Macon feels, having moved back into the unchanging past. It seems that conformity will win over the chaos that Macon so dreads.
Somewhat earlier in the story, however, Tyler has introduced one of her energetic women, Muriel Pritchett, a veterinarian’s assistant with a young son and a mind of her own. Before long, Muriel is training Macon’s aggressive dog and bringing Macon himself into her disorderly, fascinating world, where the unexpected is cherished. Finally, Macon must choose between returning to Susan, whose very body is comfortably familiar, and moving ahead in an adventuresome life with Muriel, where his only certainty will be her good nature.
In The Accidental Tourist, several characters...
(The entire section is 694 words.)