Obsession With Youth
Shteyngart satirizes Americans for their obsession with youth. In Shteyngart’s American dystopia, everyone strives to be young and superficial. Every character in Super Sad True Love Story is on the social network, GlobalTeens, although none of the characters is a teenager. Lenny is in a difficult position when the novel starts because he is about to turn forty. Lenny is depressed and ostracized because of his age. At work, people call him a RAG, an acronym for “rapidly aging geezer,” and one of his coworkers puts Lenny on a list of “people we should feel sorry for.” The America that Shteyngart describes does not have a place for adults and maturity.
Both Eunice and Lenny overcome their obsessions with youth through their familial relationships. Eunice leaves Lenny, but she does so because she realizes that the world is not as innocent as she took it to be. She decides to date Joshie because he can provide for her family. Meanwhile, Lenny overcomes his decision to never die by realizing the pivotal role that his parents played in his upbringing.
America as Dystopia
Lenny and Eunice’s relationship takes place against a dystopian America in the final stages of its decline. Politically, America has largely become a totalitarian state, and the government demands information about all aspects of people’s lives. When Lenny is about to return to New York from Rome, he is asked to name all the people that he has slept with while abroad. America is at war as well, and the National Guard is currently invading Venezuela.
Unfortunately, the American government is so deeply in debt that it cannot afford to compensate the National Guard for its fighting. In fact, the government only operates because of continued loans from the Chinese government. Still, the American Restoration Authority has enacted a series of slogans meant to restore the economy, including “Together We’ll Surprise the World” and a line from John Mellencamp’s song “Pink Houses”: “ain’t that America, something to see.” The obsession with youth inherent in these slogans fuels Shteyngart’s satire. The American Restoration Authority has also created Credit Poles that scan and broadcast people’s credit rating, urging...
(The entire section is 944 words.)