To what extent is Swede to blame for his own downfall?

To what extent is Swede to blame for his own downfall?

To what extent is Swede to blame for his own downfall?

( American Pastoral by Philip Roth )

Americans are more normally recognised as holier-than-thou, confident and have a strong sense of high quality by the non-Americans ; But Philip Roth has shown that side of a true American which is frequently non brought into calcium hydroxide visible radiation, a side which is a consequence of long insecure self-contemplation, which depicts rather brightly what it means to be a true American.

This narrative of a true American, Seymour ‘Swede’ Levov, is a narrative of his rise and autumn. He was ever envied for his generous life. He had everything ; he had a epic personality and personal appeal to fit it. He took over his father’s baseball mitt mill, served in Mariness, married the Miss New Jersey 1949, Dawn Dawyer, and refused to relocate his mill in the post-riot of 1960’s Newark. This American hero was a star jock in High School and was called ‘Swede’ because of his fluxing blond hairs, a alone trait to hold in the dark haired countryside of New Jersey.

‘Swede’ and his trophy-wife lived in Old Rimrock, New Jersey. It was an old countryside comprises of colonial places and farms far from Newark. This books builds the character of the true American Hero and his perfect life, a true idyll, but so because of socio-political scene, and the characters ain deficits, this narrative turns in to a calamity.

Downfall of a adult male is non because of one individual act he has done, but it is more like a concatenation reaction. The ruin, the calamity that ‘Swede’ faced was the consequence of non merely one but a whole batch of different grounds. It is a mix of bad picks, incorrect determinations, urges, societal and political scenarios, his upbringing and his ain parentage. Of class the biggest blow he received was because of the black bend out of his girl, Merry, but she is more of a consequence of what he has done all his life that has shaped in this disfigured character of her girl. Her daughter’s stained life is more of a disclosure of his failure than anything else. In this paper, we are traveling to discourse the character of Seymour ‘Swede’ Levov, and are traveling to analyse how deeply he has to be blamed for his ain ruin, was he himself responsible for it or non.

It is believed that place is a fixed topographic point for ethical designation and ‘American Pastoral’ challenges it. When Swede left his place in Newark and relocate his household to the suburbs of Rimrock, which was a oasis for affluent NewJersians, who likes to populate in the all right state side old rock houses, he believed that he has deserted all things connected to his Judaic background and has wholly transformed in to an American. He even warns his girls that she should non travel to any insecure topographic point like New York and should remain here in Rimrock, he told Merry ; “There are drugs, there are violent people, [ New York ] is a unsafe city” ( pg:111) and once more that ; :“You can be active in the antiwar motion as you like here in Morristown and here in Old Rimrock” and “Bring the war place, Isn’t that the motto? So do it” ( pg: 112 ) .

He thought that here in Rimrock they are safe in the station war scenario. He believed that it is the safest topographic point in America but his universe tumbled down when his girl joined a political terrorist motion and bombed a local station office in which an aged Doctor got killed, and subsequently his married woman confessed that she ne’er liked life in Rimrock. It is viewed that the relationship with place for Swede and Merry is wholly different, to Swede place is a topographic point far from all the hustle hustle of life where one can bury about his yesteryear but to Merry place is non merely in one topographic point. It is besides noticed that to American Jews, like Swede and Merry, place is non in one topographic point but it can be in many topographic points and unpredictable. ( Shih, pg 188 )

Nathan Zukerman, frequently taken as Roth’s alter self-importance, is the storyteller of the narrative. He was a friend of Swede’s brother and met him accidently old ages after their school, there he learned that Swede has late passed off. He started to analyse Swede narrative, which was one time a heroic character, whom he himself has ever looked up to, fell from grace. He bit by spot unravels his narrative and tried to understand his ruin.

Zukerman stated in the novel that Merry shortly afterwards the bombardment disappeared, which left Swede wholly traumatized, he was frequently caught inquiring what went incorrect in Merry’s development, what has caused her derailment. He believes it was his ain appropriate ‘kiss’ on the oral cavity of that kid, the anxiousnesss of Dawn, her female parent, her ain stripling, her choler towards the Vietnam War, which were all revealed in her psychiatrist’s theories. Swede frequently ponders about his conversations with his disturbed immature miss, who had excessively much choler against the system, he feels himself responsible for non taking attention of the state of affairs, for non managing her beloved girl good plenty. ( Richey, Debora, pg. 2 )

The incident on which Swede ponders the most is ‘the kiss’ , he believes that it was the parental mis-step that he shouldn’t have taken. When Merry was eleven old ages old, she was experiencing all grown up, and in her pretentious mode she asks “ ” Daddy, snog me the manner you k-k-kiss umumumother ” ( pg: 89 ) , he without believing much kissed her bumbling oral cavity in a manner she wanted, but shouldn’t have. Although that buss lasted merely a few seconds but that kiss changed Merry nightlong and for good. After that she stopped following normal address forms, and became really angry, she even started detesting her privileged life and perfect household apparatus. Merry found an absurd manner of allowing her emotions out, she found her freedom of address in a political signifier by protesting against the Vietnam War which she believes was because of the incorrect making of her father’s coevals. ( Eagle, pg: 20 )

Apart from Swede’s botching his girl and non being able to back up Merry when she most needed it, the point to analyse here is his ain characters short autumn. What has happened to alter him to such a degree that he was unable to take right from incorrect? In my point of position it has a political coloring material to it. His personality disfigured over the class of many old ages because of the of all time altering socio-political scene and he himself was unable to place it.

Swede’s character right from the start was a character of a righteous individual, he was an star jock and all his action were right and pure, he believed that his and America’s all action are right and pure, subsequently he went to fall in the Mariness and serves his state in World War II. Then the righteousness of American action in war is questioned and it all turned in to hell in the new Vietnam War. This war was being fought on streets, and it was fought on person else state and against their values. Suddenly it all felt so incorrect. America’s national confusion was shown in the deforming character of Swede. Before he used to believe in good all of a sudden he started to oppugn his ain values. He began to doubt everything and everyone including himself. In this changing atmosphere, Americans changed from saviors to autocrats. And a epic character Swede who doesn’t have any disposition towards force, produces a miss who takes safety in bombardment, protesting and killing fellow Americans. ( Conejos, pg:3 )

It is besides noted that the upbringing that Swede received besides takes portion in his character formation. Merry had problems with her male parent Swede, and his parentage consequences in the creative activity of a disturbed immature grownup, who subsequently on changed in to terrorist and ended up killing four person over the class of the old ages. Swede besides had problem with his male parent Lou Levov, when he was turning up ; he was fortunate plenty to come to footings with his choler and learned to cover with his father’s hard idiosyncrasy. Both Swede and Lou provided the best possible installations for their childs. They evidently loved their childs but their pure purposes accompanied by their oppressive nature, drive their childs to greater highs. Be it all the consequence of the bad parenting by male parents? Does this all have to make something with the incorrect upbringing and parentage? . The function of a male parent is elaborated in this novel, as Zukerman described the character of Mr. Lou Levov to the readers, was ;

Mr. Levov was one of those slum reared Judaic male parents, whose unsmooth hewn, under educated position goaded a whole coevals of endeavoring college educated Judaic boies, a male parent for whom everything is an unshakeable responsibility, for whom there is a right manner and a incorrect manner and nil in between.” ( pg: 37 )

With a critical angle, Sandra Stanley provinces, in her reappraisal on the book, that there was a sense of shared duty across coevalss in the book, she calls it ‘the ecstasy in legendary footing of American Dream’ . She was besides critical that although Roth was clear and important in reding Merry’s dissatisfaction for everything, yet he was really witting that it was Swede who is responsible for the turbulence in her girl by invariably coercing the American Dream and legends in her. ( Stanley, pg: 3 & A ; 6 )

This upset in hapless Merry’s behavior forced her towards the altering political ambiance, Americans who were one time observing their triumph in World War II, of whom Swede Levov was a portion of, were now found protesting on the streets and puting themselves aflame against the Vietnam War. Merry found her safety in these protest, she found her lost voice and herself by protesting, and subsequently she was being used by these political terrorists groups to bomb the local governments and found at that place retaliation. Jerry Levov, brother of Swede found the connexion between the two ; her freak out from the household, her male parent and the political refuge she took. He said to Swede ;“ you made the angriest child in America. Ever since she was a child, every word she spoke was a bomb ” ( pg ; 279 ) .( Eagle, pg:23 )

Therefore it is concluded that Swede is responsible for his ruinwholly.This is what the writer tries to state us. He wanted to educate how we should non bury where we come from and how we should non run after a dream which was ne’er ours to get down with. The problem with Swede is that he lived by the old system all his life yet he was crushed by that really system because he broke many regulations, foremost ; although being a Jew he married an Irish Catholic, so he didn’t raise his girl in Judaic religion, He aspired for the American Dream, and in conclusion he left his community to populate among the American aristocracy. Roth himself states in the book ‘The old system that made order doesn’t work anymore’ This book shows the coevals spread that emerged in the 1960ss because of the radicalism, how one coevals wanted to belong to America and one coevals declining to. Roth portrays the character of Swede in such a manner that it shows the rise and autumn of a hero who fails to accomplish his coveted glorification for himself and for his following coevals, all because of some mis-calculations, trips in parentage, and mis-interpreting the altering political scene.

The writer Philip Roth, tried to give a lesson in this book by the character of Swede, he showed how a person’s life who does everything right could turn out so incorrect. He strongly grasped the clear image of American life ; he narrates the narrative of Swede and showed us what will go on if our dreams can’t come true, how we are unable to vent our choler against unfairness. As Roth said, mentioning to the altering face of Americans at that age, in the book ;“ the counterpastoral [ … ] the autochthonal American berserk ” ( pg: 86 ) .

Work Cited

Philips Roth ‘American Pastoral’ 1997, New York, Vintage, Print

Richey, Debora J. , Kratzert, Mona Y. , ’American Pasterol’ , Master secret plans, Fourth

Edition, Retrieved from EBSCOHOST database

Ching Ling Shih, No Place to Fix Identity: Philip Roth’s AMERICAN PASTORAL, The

Explicator, Vol. 70, No. 3, 187–190, 2012, Retrieved from EBSCOHOST database

Christopher Eagle, Angry Because She Stutters ” : Stuttering, Violence, and tine Politicss of

Voice in American Pastoral and Sorry March 1st, 2012, Retrieved from EBSCOHOST


Antonio Conejos, ‘Truth, Justice and The American Way’ , 29ThursdayJuly, 2011, Retrieved From EBSCOHOST database.

Sandra Stanley ‘A critical Review on American Pastoral’ Nov, 2011, Retrieved from

EBSCOHOST database.

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