Markey’s treatment of writing about Number 48,227 is exactly the inverse of what the other ‘characters’ would have readers believe. While the buriers, priests, superintendents and morgue workers are most concerned with people that are identifiable, that have names and families that will knowingly miss them, Markey has taken Number 48,227 from the rest, out of oblivion, and made him a person. Despite the lack of persona or identification (even Willie seems trivial), Number 48,227 becomes the only name/recognition that anyone receives. Even the workers are nameless and faceless. But Markey does name all the places and inanimate objects; the boat name is known, the East River is mentioned, as well as the park, island, places and gates that the company passes through on their way to burial. Number 48,227 practically becomes one of these inanimate objects and a part of the surroundings because he is the only person referred to with a title.
The use of status details is used to reinforce the anonymity of Number 48,227 and to secure his place as a respectable person. Markey ensures that he is given proper respect and care because he is buried in the Catholic lot. He is cleared of any crime because his prints don’t match those of a common local pickpocket. Markey seems to imply that he was well off and not part of the working class because he had a decent amount of money and his hands proved that he was not accustomed to hard or rough physical labor. His scapular proved that he had faith in God and no one could prove that he had committed suicide so he took his place amongst other Catholics.
The scene-by-scene construction serves almost as a purgatory. He travels through the ranks and is cleared of guilt on each level, eventually gaining the blessing of a priest before being interred in the burial plot. In each office or room, Number 48,227 is given a positive attribute or saving grace that clears him of guilt and he gets a free “release for burial” stamp and is sent to the next level.
The dialogue doesn’t seem to add a lot of context. While it helps to set Number 48,227 apart because he has no voice and cannot tell his story or whether he was murdered or committed suicide, I don’t feel that it really adds much depth to the story. In having a numeraled man with a description among a sea of faceless workers, Markey has already set the unidentified dead man apart.
Markey was a writer that did a good deal of traveling and chronicled what he saw. He also wrote a moving piece about the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous.He played a backseat role, often documenting the movement and action around him while being immersed in it but never played a central part. He toured 16,000 miles of the country and had his observations published in This Country of Yours.
For my article, I would like to cover something either sports or community related. Possibly an event in the community or some kind of athletic event. I'd like to write about the place and possibly pick a person to shadow throughout to see the event through their eyes as well.