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Unknown Soldier

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Submitted By maltzy212
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The Unknown Citizen

“He was found by the bureau of statistics to be one against whom there was no official complaint.” In Auden’s poem, “The Unknown Citizen,” he describes an individual who has been found to be without any fault. This persona is described through the perspective of a Statistician from the U.S Government. The unknown citizen served the government perfectly; when there was peace he supported it and when there was war he was ready to fight. He served the Greater Community and paid his dues to the Union. But, this man, has no identity— there is no name used to identify him. Auden then proceeds to ask the important questions in his tonal shift: “Was this man free? Was he happy?” No government statistics can ever answer these kinds of questions. Auden makes his theme clear by showing the blatant difference between the complete statistical information about the citizen compiled by the State and the lack of personal information on him. The poet conveys that statistics cannot sum up an individual and physical facts are an insufficient way to evaluate human happiness. The poet is drawing in our attention by asking these questions, the questions of freedom and happiness. He suggests that the average man is a slave to routine because he follows all the government’s standards: he buys a paper everyday, he’s married and has five children, he has everything necessary to the modern man. And because of this, it can be true that he is incapable of understanding such concepts of freedom and happiness. Therefore, such a question in this context would be ‘absurd’ to the persona from the governments view.

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What I did different:
In my first analysis of “The Unknown Citizen,” I did not specify that the persona of the unknown citizen was created by the government, and did not explain who the subject was as well as contradicted many statements in my piece. I needed to make sure with my second draft that nothing is obvious and that the man was a soldier, non-the-less a citizen and to be careful of details.

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