The characters of Binx and Kate are in contrast to one another throughout the book; two divergent and extreme paths that a human being might take in response to the dull, gray world. Binx engages the world and its pleasures, but as an observer. Even his relations with women are more of an act that he watches in third person. In contrast, Kate, drowning in the ennui of the world around her, creates the crises and events around her, like someone hurting themselves to remind them that they are alive. How is this resolved? Percy takes us through their lives to its fulfilling conclusion; a merging of paths that allows for both, within their marriage, to find the happiness which eluded them.
In the story, the characters are actors in a play, except for Binx and Kate. They are set apart with Binx on one hand observing the world, and Kate on the other excusing herself from it with the occasional jolt of experience to remind her she’s still there. Where Binx and Kate differ is in their responses to this world. Binx "managed to go to college four years without acquiring a single honor.” He is the “selfish observer”, the one who takes part in life by being constantly in a third person point of view about it. Binx has a pathological need for information. He is the moviegoer, but the type of moviegoer who pays attention to the details, who in many ways does not see the picture because he is too busy finding some sort of fulfillment in the particular.
Kate is similar to Binx and in fact remarks upon it: "You're like me, but worse. Much worse." Why worse? Because in her view, merely observing is not life at all, one must engage. Her engagement of the world though has its own perversion. It is a boredom which festers and is only alleviated by the occasional self-created crisis.
Through marriage, a coming together of souls, Percy shows the reader that the Binx’s and Kate’s of the world are not alone. That together a synergy can...