In "Enter Without So Much as Knocking," the contemporary poet Donald Bruce Dawe creates an impression of a suburban family that is materially well-provided for, but spiritually empty.
The poem begins with a description of a new-born baby being brought home from the hospital. The hospital itself is not a warm, loving place; rather, it is a place of "SILENCE." The first thing the baby hears at home is a television show that is hosted by a man who has obviously changed his name in order to make a flashy effect:
first thing he heard was
Bobby Dazzler on Channel 7:
Hello, hello hello all you lucky people
The household into which the baby is welcomed is "well-equpped" and "smoothly run"--because the people are nothing more than stereotypes:
one economy-size Mum, one Anthony Squires-
Coolstream-Summerweight Dad, along with two other kids
straight off the Junior Department rack.
Life in this family is materially comfortable--the family has a "good-as-new station-wagon (£ 495 dep. at Reno's)." The problem is that life is also regimented, uncreative, and divorced from the natural environment in which human beings are meant to live. Here is a description of a shopping trip taken by the mother and her little son:
WALK. DON'T WALK. TURN
LEFT. NO PARKING. WAIT HERE. NO
SMOKING. KEEP CLEAR/OUT/OFF GRASS. NO
BREATHING EXCEPT BY ORDER. BEWARE OF
THIS. WATCH OUT FOR THAT
This kind of existence often leads to a condition that has been referred to as suburban malaise: a vague feeling that something is missing in the comfortable, clean, but disconnected life of the modern suburb.
It is interesting to note that in my city, New York, many thousands of young people have moved from the suburbs into the city, where life is a little dirtier, a little more dangerous, but also more diverse, more connected to other people, and in some hard-to-define way, more "real."