Outrage (violence, indignation) and outrageousness in American Pastoral. To be continued.... I think that underneath the surface of Levov's personality, there's a great deal of violence. I can...

Outrage (violence, indignation) and outrageousness in American Pastoral. To be continued.... I think that underneath the surface of Levov's personality, there's a great deal of violence. I can give two examples that testify to this: first, the kiss and the temptation of "knowing" Merry, and at the end of the nove, p. 373, the scene in which he almost strikes Sheila, the speech therapist and his former mistress, "with a picture of a bull taken off the wall" and bludgeon her over the head with" He also calls her "a bitch". A feww pages further in the novel, he says:"I'll kill her [Rita] if she's anywhere near my daughter."The narrator formulates this hypothesis: "I was wrong." in the first chapter of the novel in the first part entitles Paradise remembered, long before the Fall and Paradise Lost. Furthermore it is when the narrator seemed to approve of Jerry's standpoint that he shows how different he feels: "You're craving depths that don't exist. The guy is the embodiment of nothing. I was wrong. Never more mistaken in my life." I suppose Levov, just like Merry is one of the key characters that have a crucial role in "the American beserk." It's Jerry's viewpoint that may be biased: "It's Jerry's theory that the Swede is nice that is to say passive... According to this theory, it's the no-rage that kills him in the end." p. 72. The tone in which the letter is written is also emotional and somewhat outré: "Not everyone knew how much he suffered because of the shocks that befell his loved ones."p. 17. 

Asked on by florine

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Certainly, a perennial theme in the writings of Roth focuses on primal rage and what happens to us when we suddenly become overpowered by that kind of rage and in a sense, lose ourselves to it as we lose control. This is something that can be seen in a number of Roth's protagonists, not just this one. The way in which his verbal language is used to signify the loss of control through the use of insults is another key factor to be considered.

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree that the question needing considering seems absent. That being said, I agree that there is a high level of violence in the text. I think that both the physical and mental violence is shown without one outweighing the other. I am curious about the "no-rage" which kills him though.

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Yes, this is a bit hard to discern as to what we're supposed to do with the evidence presented...

All of Roth's work seems to be concerned with what happens when an individual loses control over himself, when impulse and mental faculty become divorced.

This is one way to read the episodes of violence - as moments when control is lost. The larger question is what happens to the individual's sense of identity when he finds that he is no longer in control of himself.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Do you have a question related to this, or are we commenting?  I will comment!  Yes, that certainly describes violence.  There is violence under the surface that bubbles up when he cannot take it any more.  The sufferer also causes others to suffer around him.

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