Revolutionary Road

April 7, 2009
By robert gross BRONZE, Canfield, Ohio
robert gross BRONZE, Canfield, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Revolutionary Road seems like a novel rooted to its specific time period, heavily devoted to revealing the truth behind the suburbanite culture in the 50s. Author Richard Yates wrote the book in the 1950s when cold war paranoia began to settle in and the American Dream consisted of the American family with a traditional mom raising the kids in a home surrounded by a white picket fence. Dad would go out and earn the bacon, while mom spent her day fretting over chores, the children, and the ceremonial preparation of dinner for her husband's homecoming. However, the themes from the 50s are still very relevant as Yates deconstructs the American dream and revealing its often tragic truth through the lenses of one particular family, the Wheelers. At the time of its publication, Yates's novel was revolutionary, firmly detailing life in America during the 1950s and reflecting important themes such as conformity, dreams, and marriage. Yates spins his novel with ironic humor and gripping drama that plunges the reader deep into the vast loneliness of the human psyche.

Revolutionary Road is the story of a handsome suburbanite couple, Frank and April Wheeler. To the outside world, it seems the Wheeler's have everything going for them. They have a nice comfortable home, two kids, and they make a very attractive young couple. However, behind closed doors is a marriage on its hinges breaking down under the weight of deception, adultery, and infidelity. Their love for one another is being sucked right out of their marriage, as their passion is replaced by black ugly confrontations that pull the two of them further and further apart. Once the most promising young couple the neighboors have ever seen, marriage at a young age and early pregnancy has forced the Wheelers to settle in comfortably into their suburban prison. Frank works at what he believes is the most uninteresting job in the world at the dull Knox office building in New York, while April plays the role of simple housewife, wondering how her life turned became so typical. Amidst all the conformity around them, the Wheelers make one last ditch attempt to salvage their dreams and the lives they so truly believe they deserve. They plan to run away to Paris, where April can work as secretary to support the family, while Frank ventures out to discover just whatever he was meant to do in his life. Both characters get tangled up in themselves what they selfishly desire, and they are foolishly oblivious to the fact that fate or rather destiny has much more tragic events installed for them.

Richard Yates replicates the tension and hopelessness associated with the 1950s. His depth of language and attention to detail draws the reader into the setting. Yates understands that in order to show and not tell when writing a story, that the most important piece to the dialogue is what is not said rather than what it is actually spoken. He shows the reader the main characters' flaws, and the Wheeler's are more realistic because of them. The novel brings the main characters into the foreground and pits their outlooks on life soulfully against each other. As Frank and April struggle to find their own identity, the reader is forced to wonder how these two very different people came together. As the Wheelers grow more distant, they both become convinced that running off to Paris is the only way to escape the social prison of the suburban American family. What April and Frank do not realize is that they have disillusioned themselves into thinking that they deserve better lives. Blinded by their love and their yearnings, the desperation of the Wheelers resonates on a personal level. The book becomes more than just social commentary; Revolutionary Road transcends into a dark personal tragedy. It becomes clear that the Wheeler's are just two normal people torn apart by their shortcomings and unfulfilled dreams. By the novel's end, the reader is forced to ask a question, when is it too late to follow one's dreams?

Revolutionary Road not only tackles themes of depression, dreams, and personal identity, it also enlightens human relationships. Yates shows how even the most traditional nuclear American family can be destined for disaster. There are different motivations set the characters apart. Some are faced with a desperate yearning to be special and unique, and others are faces with a desire to give in and conform with the cultural norms. The reader learns that the only thing these characters have in common is the loneliness that they feel. Revolutionary Road is a deep provocative exploration into the lives of two gripping people and is a must read for anyone in the mood for a not so typical love story.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jul. 15 2009 at 12:08 pm
distant_dreamer GOLD, Belmont, New Hampshire
12 articles 6 photos 498 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life's a climb, but the view is great!"

I really like your story! Keep up the good work!


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