Walker Percy’s Will Barrett

Will Barrett is a Walker Percy character that deserves more discussion and debate. Is he a misaligned mental case or a “lost soul” type doing the best he can? Percy never answers for Barrett in The Last Gentleman, never betrays Barrett’s questioning/questing mind, or his seeming afflictions of amnesia and deja vu. Trying out his love for Kitty and/or Rita, Barrett observes the following:

Here it comes again, he thought, the sweet beast of catastrophe. Am I not like Rita after all and do I not also live by catastrophe? I can smell it out every time. Show me a strange house and I can walk straight to the door where the bad secrets are kept. The question is: is it always here that one seeks one’s health, here in the sweet, dread precincts of disaster? Strange: that her disaster now enables me, that now I could love her again and more easily from the pity of it.

from Chapter 2, Part 12 of The Last Gentleman