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What is John Updike's view on suburbia in his short stoty "Separating"?

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moglvax | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 17, 2009 at 8:47 PM via web

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What is John Updike's view on suburbia in his short stoty "Separating"?

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 19, 2009 at 4:24 PM (Answer #1)

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This story is about a husband's thoughts on the demise of his marriage but he focuses on  their new tennis court. He is really thinking about his lack of feeling for his wife and family.
His descriptions of the tennis court and other renovations are actually about their family.

His(Updike's) view on suburbia is reflected in his descriptions. He thinks that the suburban lifestyle lends itself to inauthenticity and distraction from meaningful communication and intimacy. He views the focus on primping external material things, like the tennis court, as diversions from the  meaningful activities that are done within the family. In suburbia, since everyone is doing the same meaningless activities, it is especially harmful because it appears to be normal but it isn't. It breeds discontent because it positions the marriage as just another commodity in the material world.

In the story, he realizes the pristine tennis court has been worn down by the bad winter storms. Here, the narrator describes the court but what he is really talking about is his wife. She has lost her youthful color. He uses images of dust to refer to death and decay, for example, the plaster dust caused by the kitchen renovation. This occurred at the same time as he and his wife drifted apart. The muddy plateau which used to be the tennis court is a metaphor for their marriage. They had attempted to have more energy in their marriage, when actually they were pretending.They distracted themselves with home renovations, but their relationship was dead.

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