American Pastoral

American Identity in Roth and Miller 12th Grade

In American Pastoral and A View From the Bridge, Philip Roth and Arthur Miller respectively present family life as a tense realm of activity where relationship ties are easily stretched and broken. By setting their novels in Rimrock, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, the authors offer local and interrelated drama to symbolize the tragedy which unfolds when families begin to turn on each other. American Pastoral revolves around the life of Seymour “Swede” Levov and his demise after his daughter blows up a post office in revolt against the Vietnam War. A View From the Bridge centers on Eddie Carbone and his desperate grapple at masculinity within the family, eventually leading to his murder. The novels juxtapose ideas of the perfect American Dream and parasitic relationships; betrayal eventually eats away at familial trust to demonstrate that arguments and tensions occur in vain and leave us with nothing. We are our greatest enemies.

Both novels argue that ultimately, within a family, we are fighting against ourselves and hence are our own downfalls. American Pastoral suggests that within a family there is a lack of trust and that, behind the facades, we do not really know what those closest to us are thinking. Roth writes that “you...

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