John Bickerson “Binx” Bolling
John Bickerson “Binx” Bolling, a twenty-nine-year-old class-bound Southerner given to the arts, culture, and education. Binx’s approach to his thirtieth birthday provokes an archetypal quest for meaning in his life. He is skeptical and existential, with a detachment from self that is metaphorically expressed: He sees himself and life itself as comparable to film figures and motion pictures. Moviegoing is a way to study life; more explicitly, life is a kind of existence in a movie: The replication has become the reality. The novel has very little action. Binx has long discussions about life with great-aunt Emily Cutrer, who solicits his help in dealing with her stepdaughter, Kate, who is going through what was then called a “nervous breakdown.” Binx takes Kate with him on a kind of escape trip to Chicago, where she more or less returns to normal and Binx more or less finds himself. At the end, it is revealed that the two will marry.
Kate Cutrer, Binx’s adoptive distant cousin, beautiful, gracious, genteel, and fragile. In confronting her problems, Kate is always on the edge of despair leading toward suicide. Her fiancé was killed in a car wreck, leaving her distraught and turning to pills and liquor. As the story unfolds, she rids herself of Walter Wade, a rather silly young man to whom she is engaged. Rescuing her from what will surely be a successful suicide...
(The entire section is 515 words.)