Disillusionment in Postmodern American Literature
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This paper examines how beginning in the 1960s and continuing onward, America saw a deep disillusionment with the suburban trappings of contemporary America, as Cold War anxiety combined with rampant consumerism to instill a sense of moral vacuity, which was reflected in a variety of literature from the time. In particular, the paper examines how John Updike's "Run Rabbit", Richard Yates' "Revolutionary Road", Raymond Carver's short story "Neighbors", and Don DeLilo's "White Noise" all explore how the ramifications of this widespread disillusionment play out in the lives of their characters.
From the Paper:"In "Neighbors," Bill and Arlene Miller only really talk about themselves "in comparison with the lives of their neighbors, Harriet and Jim Stone," and are given the opportunity to forego comparison in favor of embodiment when they watch over the Stone's apartment (Carver 9). Bill Mullen identifies this total acquiescence to envy and consumerism as a result of television's dominance in American culture at the time, and "finds that some of the effects [...] are feelings of emotional distance from events in one's own life, absence of critical reflection or thinking fostered by television's static immediacy, and a general feeling of powerlessness." This plays out in the characters' lives as "an absence of both self-awareness and class consciousness, induced and compounded by a longing to merge into the generic (middle class) needs and desires that television targets as its demographically broad-based 'audience'" (Mullen 102). Thus, Bill and Arlene seek to inhabit and embody what they see as the ideal lives of their neighbors without even really being aware as to why. They are creatures of their moment, and thus find themselves acting out the logical endpoint of rampant consumerism. "
Sample of Sources Used:
- Adams, Rachel. "The Ends of America, the Ends of Postmodernism." Twentieth Century Literature. 53.3 (2007): 248-272,230. Print.
- Carver, Raymond. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1992. Print.
- DeLilo, Don. White Noise. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1985. Print.
- Fekete, David J. "John Updike's Rabbit, Run: A Quest for a Spiritual Vocabulary in the Vacuum Left by Modernism." Religious Studies and Theology. 26.1 (2007): 25-44. Print.
- Moreno, Michael P. "Consuming the Frontier Illusion: The Construction of Suburban Masculinity in Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road." Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies . 3. (2003): 84-95. Print.
Cite this Research Paper:
Disillusionment in Postmodern American Literature (2013, June 05) Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/research-paper/disillusionment-in-postmodern-american-literature-153484/
"Disillusionment in Postmodern American Literature" 05 June 2013. Web. 21 January. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/research-paper/disillusionment-in-postmodern-american-literature-153484/>