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The Unknown Citizen

The Unknown Citizen


by W. H. Auden

The Unknown Citizen Patriotism Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #4

Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan (lines 18-19)

The Instalment Plan! Our savior! Even though buying things on credit can get people into serious debt, the practice is often encouraged because it stimulates the economy and creates jobs.

Quote #5

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went. (lines 22-24)

Only the "proper opinions" are considered patriotic, especially when they have to do with war. The poem treats "war" and "peace" as if they were seasons of the year: "Ah, it’s spring, we must be at war. Okay, now it’s summer, we’re at peace again." We’re exaggerating, of course, but you get the idea.

Quote #6

He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation. (lines 25-26)

Having kids was considered patriotic because it meant more people in the labor force. But having too many kids would mean overpopulation. Fortunately, the Unknown Citizen’s five kids comes to just the right number.

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