Williston Bibb Barrett and the Myth of the Fall in Walker Percy's "The Last Gentleman" and "The Second Coming"

Bernadette Milada Prochaska, Marquette University

Abstract

Williston Barrett experiences a sense that something is amiss in the world and in his life in particular. There is evidence of the presence of the Myth of the Fall in the two novels that trace the experiences of this everyman, The Last Gentleman and The Second Coming. There is imbalance, indirection, fear and bewilderment at every turn for this fallen man in a fallen world who encounters death and is consoled by resurrection. Will's journey is a literal one in which he becomes companion to a dying youth, to whom he must explain the "economy of salvation." While providing for Jamie Vought's baptism and witnessing his death, Will experiences the meaning of the Fall including its essential hope of a glorious resurrection. In both novels Will makes mythic journeys which have overtones of entrance into death, and marvelous glimpses of entrance into life. These mythic experiences give a rich, mellow flavor to an "everyman" story. The characters created by Percy who populate the world of Will Barrett all help to enrich his life, for they, and the experiences he encounters, are important in helping him to discover and recover himself.

Recommended Citation

Prochaska, Bernadette Milada, "Williston Bibb Barrett and the Myth of the Fall in Walker Percy's "The Last Gentleman" and "The Second Coming"" (1989). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8925422.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8925422

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