Death of an American Dream

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

Philip Roth’s American Pastoral has been sitting unread on my bookshelf for 6 months.  What a mistake to wait so long to read; Roth’s novel is thoroughly interesting in all of its aspects.  Creative plot structure, superb characterization and a strong argument are merely three of the points of intrigue that permeate throughout this novel.  In general, the novel convinces its readers that the American berserk, the formerly hidden dark side of Americana, is innocuously seeping into the American pastoral.  Near the end of the novel the narrator decalres, “the old system that made order doesn’t work anymore” (422).  In doing so we are to believe that the old American mechanisms of dealing with life are outdated and we are left not with an alternative, but with nothing, and are presented with the American berserk that has always been lying underneath us.  The final scene of the novel, in which the drunken wife of the Swede’s wife’s lover stabs the Swede’s father with a fork, confirms that the despite its illogic, the absurd prevails.


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