Being There Jerzy Kosinski

Being There is a book written by Jerzy Kosinski about a gardener by the name Chance who always did what he was told (Kosinski, 1970). He enjoyed working in the garden as it ever made him one with the plants (Kosinski, 1970). He sandwiched his ignorance and illiteracy between being true to his identity and choosing what to learn from the images the media projected on him. He would mimic romance, handshake or even an exercise in bids to create a world of reality he never seemed to have. It was through the media that he received his civilization. He was able to carry himself out like an intelligent, learned man in public. His public actions and speeches were too confounding for an available analysis hence prompting the president and others to run a background check on him. Despite his ignorance and mimicked public presentation, Chance was led by chance to borrow from the experience of the garden and the media in advising the president concerning economic growth. The world of television made him the sage he became in later life even though he was nothing closer to being what destiny befell on him.

In the film Being There, the duality of the television created two Chances, one within whom the audience in the television projected and the gardener.  In this film, the media magnifies life as a mental state, of which Chance (Peter Sellers) excelled so much in choosing what he wanted to watch and what he did not wish to.  This attribute refined Chauncy into the sage he later becomes and the image he posed to the public.  The television enabled him to become a worthy presidential candidate despite his illiteracy level.  He refused to receive the media projection of the peoples’ complexities onto his. He saw life as a gardener viewing his plants. Unlike the media personalities who had two names for two different worlds, he chose to stick and remain true to who he indeed was.

Thesis statement: this paper will examine how the media created heroes out of Chance

Being There is a book by Jerzy Kosinski. The book narrates about a gardener named Chance who knew nothing else in life other than work in the garden and what he views on the television. Upon the demise of his employer, Chance leaves (Kosinski, 1970) the homestead and finds himself in a world of reality. Chance is led by chance through bigger destinies than he ever anticipated. From a limousine accident, he meets Mrs Benjamin Rand, who takes him in as a business advisor to her ailing husband. On Wednesday, the president of the United States visits Mrs Rand to discuss economically. The president enquires from Chance concerning his view on the economy. Chance responds, borrowing from plants in his garden, that growth has its season in a park. The president later, in a speech borrows from Chances’ metaphor on the playground. He is later invited to appear in an evening television program to discuss the speech of the president delivered earlier. Chance is swept across the globe. He even attends a United Nations’ reception as Mrs Rands’ escort. His fame begins to raise the alarm since he proved to be more intelligent and was thought of as a spy. The president and Soviet ambassador decide to run a background analysis (Kosinski, 1970) on him to ascertain whether he was a spy or just an ordinary citizen rose from nowhere.

Finding nothing of worth about Chance, he continued to be the man he has always been and impressing so many in the televisions. A man named O’Flaherty recommends Chance as a potentially worthy candidate for public office because he has no background (Kosinski, 1970) and his perfect television presentations. While at the Capitol Hill, Chauncy Gardiner embarks in his frenzy when he walks to the garden. The garden feels so much peaceful and comfortable for him. 

There are a couple of differences between the film and the book Being There. In the movie, Chance is depicted to be more innocent than in the book. The narrator only explains the feelings of Chance while in the garden, but in the film, Chance is seen as a robot with no feelings but only attending to usual duties in the garden. This is because he does not display any emotion or facial expression thus difficult to tell whether he is hungry, angry, tired or even sad. While watching television, the narrator states that Chance feels like he is changing himself whenever he is changing the channel. In the film, all that can be seen is a man absent in thoughts or feelings.

In the film, Chance is depicted as a supernatural being while in the book, he is just a normal human being. In the movie, Chance appears more innocent than in the book, and everyone felt perfectly comfortable beside him. While dying, Chance was there beside Ben to make him feel comfortable, like a plant dying from drought. This depicted him as an angel of death, easing his victims’ pain of death. At the funeral of Ben, Chance walks around the woods and is even seen walking on water. This was an unprecedented act that Christians only associate with Godly nature.

In the book, Mrs Rand mistakenly calls Chance the gardener Chauncy Gardener (Kosinski, 1970), which he contents with and later allows everyone to call him. He borrowed this from the television actors who had a stage name and a real name. He believed his life to be a double life. In the film, Eve calls him Chauncy, which he accepts with no former beliefs, not even from the televisions. 


Chance was born to a pretty woman who was weak minded (Kosinski, 1970, p. 7), a disability that Chance inherits. He lived in his master’s mansion where he was provided for every essential thing he could need, including television with remote control. He worked as a gardener for his employer. He loved watching the television from where he could be able to see the external world. However, death brought about a drastic change in his life when it took his master. Lawyers came and took everything, forcing him to leave the mansion (Kosinski, 1970).

Chance had a fixed state of mind that borrowed so much from his experience on the garden.  He kept on revisiting the first experience with his old master. He was to care for the trees, plants and grass in the garden. He was married to them and even shared in their state of tranquillity, openhearted both in the sunshine and heavy rain (Kosinski, 1970) 

Chance was courageous, calm and peaceful. He readily accepted the change and conformed entirely to its demands. After the death of his master, chance knew he would have to leave. This did not bother him since he was never afraid to face the unknown outside world. All he had to do was to patiently wait for his next event in life (Kosinski, 1970)

Chance was very realistic and would bring to actual life all he saw on TV. When the lawyer presented him with a piece of paper to read and sign, he referred back to the television and in his mind calculated the time needed to read the letter after which he gave it back stating that he could not sign it. He feared being mocked since on the television; people who did not know how to read and write were always mocked (Kosinski, 1970).


Chance was never really the man many people who encountered with him thought him to be. He only freely drifted, like the winds, into the world (Dixon, 2015). Despite this, many regarded him as a man with a sharp mind (Kosinski, 1970). Admitting change from the television program he watched, Chauncy stepped out of his old masters’ compound and is met accidentally by his benefactor Mrs Benjamin Rand. To her, she perceived Chauncy as a man who knew what he was doing, intelligent and straight forward yet in a real sense. Chance was only gambling. As his old man dies, he seemed untroubled by it since he believed that the television remote gave him the power to create the man he wanted to be (Kosinski, 1970). Chance is later tossed into the world like a creator God who happens to be a saviour later in the course of the numerous events (Izabela, 2015).

Chance had a perfect idea of a garden from the television programs he watched. While advising Mr Rand concerning an ideal business, Chance ignorantly borrowed from the only field he ever knew and stated that (Kosinski, 1970) it was not easy to obtain a suitable place, a garden in which one could work without interference and grow with the seasons.  He stated that there could not be too many opportunities left (borrowing from TV). Further, he added that he had never seen a forest or a jungle but a garden in which he could work and watch the thing he had planted grow (Kosinski, 1970). This was to Mr Rand perfect business advice. Yet in reality, Chauncey knew nothing or had not a single knowledge in business and entrepreneurship.

According to (Lazer, 2004) the media addiction of Chance significantly contributed to his lack of family and awkward sexuality. He attributed the television to his incapability to make love to Mrs Rand since he never saw one on the television (Kosinski, 1970). Also, learning from the media, Chance borrowed how to shake hands with the president of the United States and did it correctly as though he had a real-life experience.

The psychology of Chance was deteriorated by the media in that his thoughts entirely bended onto the television programs. He thought that the television images were real.  This was perfectly stated by Mrs Rand when she poined ou that Mr Gardiner had the uncanny ability to reduce complex matters to the simplest of human term (Kosinski, 1970) chance made almost everything from television into reality including shaking the presidents’ hands while looking directly into his eyes. His world of television was all a reality to him.

 The position of Mr Rand as the financial corporation chairman of the United States made him an essential person to the president. Chance employs the media in advising t Mr Rand concerning financial problems. Through the press, Chance was able to become closely acquainted with Mr Rand, and even after his demise, he became a close assistant to Mrs Rand and even escorted her to global summits.


The life of Chance underwent considerable changes from the old garden to a new one. While departing from his old garden, the life of chance seems to have a lot of meaning. He bet all on chance that enables him to be optimistic that there was something for him after departing the old garden. Born with no intelligence, never having acquired knowledge, Chance had a good look that was sadly never enough to grant him a perfect life in the outside world. His life depended largely on the television programs that he watched while still at his old masters’ mansion. He borrowed so much from these television programs which aided him to fit perfectly well in the outside world.    However, this was not the case since all he knew better were the garden and the television programs. The garden and media even paved the way for his miraculous transformation into a political figure in the United States. Chance was a man who built his life largely on chance, yet this never occurred to most of the people he met. Through chance, he was able to become a world leader and a financial adviser (Kosinski, 1970).



Being There (Motion Picture). (1979) united States.

Izabela D. (2015). Coincidence in the Life of Kosiński’s Chauncey Gardiner: Some Metaphorical Considerations.  [In:] The Music of Chance: Exploring the Principles of Cosmic Governance and Happenstance, edited by Stephen Butler.  Black Unicorn. Chicago

Lazar, M. (2004). Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There, Novel and Film: Changes Not by Chance. College Literature 31(2), 99-116.

Kosinski, J. (1970). Being There. New York. Bantam Books.