American Pastoral. Philip Roth

Perhaps the best novel American Pastoral by Philip Roth, where his pen recreates a segment of American society that may be instructive to understand and judge their most emblematic topics. From the detailed and thorough characterization of one of his characters, the prototype of young American post-war success, the talented writer of Jewish origin is given skill to recreate and raise questions and reports that seized her artistic spirit. Psychological and social insight of the world described is so far completed, which could well be translated as a radiologic examination of the American soul.


From classic first-person narrator, focuses on Roth’s alter ego by the name of Skip Zuckerman, introspection begins personality of the young Seymour Levov, nicknamed the Swedish by his peers, who has an unquestioned reputation social environment. Zuckerman himself admires him as a brother, and as an athlete, exemplary son, responsible and successful entrepreneur, but especially for keeping the memory of him when he passed for the school sports star and people

Twenty years later, when all the generation that gave life to the county of New Jersey and particularly the town of Newark, is far from their neighborhoods because the factories are over a fist raised by their parents, an unexpected invitation to dinner by the famous Swedish Levov, Zuckerman Skip motivate the writer to look into the life and soul of those prototype ideal American boy, now turned into a great man full of unresolved problems and died suddenly of cancer, perhaps because the depth of the wounds of the heart.

The story will gradually encircling the reality, showing their many facets, highlighting another of the major issues in American society, as the difference between Jews and Christians within the new company (one of the unavoidable topic of Roth literature) starting from the Swedish and their origins, so different from his wife of Catholic descent, and although neither suggests actual conflicts of a religious customs that drag are also a problem for a better living for partner. So, the father of Swedish Levov, disagree from the start with the marriage of his son to a Catholic family woman, do not hesitate to blame the religious origins unlike the sad outcome that becomes the situation.

The novel also addresses the issue of stigmatization of women as a result of those typical American beauty pageants. Levov Swedish women, Mary Dawn Dwyer, was my New Jersey in his youth, and that stardom will load his entire life without ever being able to stop my New Jersey for their environment and to those who know first. Perhaps that is why this woman is marginalized socially during their stay and spends his days breeding animals, as a way to break free of social pressure as an escape hatch for the charge that as the years pass it becomes increasingly harder load. However, this isolation sickly will also have dire consequences for the family, focusing on the person of his daughter, who comes to represent the result of this new society came at a time to have it all. Stable marriages, jobs, money sufficient freedom of action and joy of life …

The brother of the Swedish life is also another important center of attention, it represents the antithesis of his brother. Jerry has been enriched as a surgeon, has been married four or five times, contradicting all the rules imposed by their parents. The money and above all the success (successful American life) has led a life very different from his brother, who seems to bear on his shoulders with dignity total weight of the load ancestral, with all its rules and formalities. The fact of joining his father’s glove factory, although immensely prosperous at the time, deprived the Swedish to make your own life. It could have been a successful athlete or an illustrious military, or a free man from the tutelage of their parents. Still, everything looks perfect in your life, and remains the envy of many, until one day her daughter put a bomb in the office of the quiet village where they live, killing one person. That bomb also burst into the Swedish and her life slowly starts falling apart, to walk the journey that leads man into itself for answers unanswerable. What failed? What was my mistake? Why my daughter?

Reading American Pastoral leave no reader untouched. It is undoubtedly one of those great books that adds a new lens to our skewed perception of reality. The novel is an open denunciation of the great vices of postwar American society, immensely prosperous materially, but spiritually poor. The excess wealth of a society leads to the destruction thereof, or the great freedoms beget children possessed. Both proposals have been subtly outlined and perhaps the reader should be developed.


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