Institutional Scholarship

What the Hell Happened to our Smart Jewish Kids?" Writing to Bridge Generational Divides in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral

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dc.contributor.advisor Sessions, Gabriel
dc.contributor.author Sansom, Cole
dc.date.accessioned 2019-09-02T18:01:55Z
dc.date.available 2019-09-02T18:01:55Z
dc.date.issued 2019
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10066/21755
dc.description.abstract In my thesis, I read Philip Roth’s American Pastoral as a metafiction text about its narrator: Nathan Zuckerman. Zuckerman is beset by conflict between him and his parents that took place in previous novels and inhabits the Swede to understand his own father. Struck by the realization that he has been “getting people wrong” his whole life, Zuckerman writes from the point of view of the father whose child has committed a transgression (the position he finds himself sharing with the Swede’s daughter, Merry). He is first attracted to the Swede’s life for the Swede’s inability to get angry at his child, which would ease the pain from Zuckerman’s own angry father. But Zuckerman finds that the Swede’s passivity is what leads to his downfall. The book then pulls back to a depiction of conflict between generations, and, I argue, specifically the conflicts between generations within a diaspora. American Jews, the community which both Zuckerman and the Swede were born into, underwent rapid changes in ethnoracial identity over the course of the 20th century, leading to differences in values and beliefs, and thus to intergenerational conflict. Zuckerman realizes that his own father’s anger was due to his ethnic identity, and realizes that he may never understand his father. Roth’s legacy is one of a diasporic writer, trying to explain differences between parents and their children.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of English
dc.language.iso eng
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
dc.subject.lcsh Roth, Philip. American pastoral
dc.subject.lcsh Intergenerational relations in literature
dc.subject.lcsh Immigrants families in literature
dc.subject.lcsh Jews -- United States -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
dc.title What the Hell Happened to our Smart Jewish Kids?" Writing to Bridge Generational Divides in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Open Access


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