The Accidental Tourist

In what ways is Macon the Accidental Tourist?

The logo on the front of all Macon's travel guides is a picture of a winged armchair and Macon's wife Sarah believed that this was not only the logo for The Accidental Tourist books, but for Macon himself. Julian describes metaphor of the winged armchair as "while armchair travelers dream of going places, travelling armchairs dream of staying put", and Macon does his best to help his readers feel as if they have never left home. He advises them on the best places to eat and stay, the places that are most like those in America. However, inventing these methods and systems to make it feel as if he never left home is not a chore for Macon. He does not invent the systems to help other people, but himself.

Sarah is correct in claiming that the winged armchair is Macon's logo, because it does represent him - he wants to stay home, but is being moved around all over the world, and has to do his best to make it seem like home. In reality, Macon is the Accidental Tourist and the book is more a documentation of the systems he uses to get through life than a 'guide' book. The Accidental Tourist books are less travel guides and more 'instructional guides for life', telling the reader how to live with minimum discomfort, without opening up and hiding within your own cocoon oblivious to the rest of the world. This is exactly how Macon lives every day of his life, and not just those when he is travelling. He lives his entire life trying to package himself so that nothing will change him, nothing will upset him and nothing can harm him. His books reflect this clearly and this is why Sarah considers his books so similar to himself. The books are about Macon - The Accidental Tourist.

Above all, Macon wants to control everything. He likes for nothing to be left to chance. When travelling, he only takes what he can carry on to the plane, to eliminate the risk of lost luggage, as well as taking his own travel sized soap powder so that he can clean his clothes without having to worry about foreign laundries and their detergents. His aim is to control his life - to make sure that nothing can ever go wrong, to make sure that nothing can break through his protective 'cocoon'. Macon's desire to control his own life in such a regimented way is probably due to the fact that he doesn't trust other people. He feels that he cannot rely on others and instead can only trust himself. This is probably due to his mother, who was indecisive, moving apartments and changing the style of their lives. However, Ethan's death would have also added to this distrust of people as a whole and would have made him more defensive than ever. It is understandable, though, that Macon should distrust people, because Ethan's death showed so clearly how evil people are and how you can never judge what another person is about to do.

Macon understands that life is a journey and in knowing this treats his entire life as he does his travel. He attempts to travel through life without changing anything and without having to make decisions. Macon wants to sit back and watch life pass him by - he doesn't want to get caught up in the spontaneous flow of life where he can be pushed, pulled and changed by forces out of his reach. He is unexcited by life, its spontaneity and uncertainty and would rather sit back and watch the stream of life flow past him, so that he could remain unaffected and unchanged. In a small way, he does achieve this, and it is made clear with the way Macon is so eager to give away Ethan's posessions after Ethan is killed. In this way, he seems to remain unchanged, as he wanted, but inside, he never really gets over Ethan's death and this could also be attributed to the fact that Macon never properly mourned his death, and instead went on with life as if nothing had ever happened.

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22 July 2014. Author: Criticism