Its circular logic, but what makes Frank and April superior is their sensation of being superior. For no tangible reason, they are convinced they were meant for greater things than the corporate and domestic drudgery of suburban life, if only because they are aware of the narrow confines of this existence, while their docile neighbors are not.Via : Lionel Shriver, introducing ‘Revolutionary Road’ by Richard Yates.
Fifties America may have emphasised conformity, getting with the programm and embracing the ‘American Dream’, often defined as having exactly what Frank and April have already got : a car, a house, children and, for the man at least, a steady job. But by the 1960’s, when I was raised, much more emphasis was put on self-expression, on the uniqueness of very soul. By the 1990’s teaching that everyone was special had literally entered the curriculum. American school children are assured that they are remarkable on a daily basis. ‘Self-Esteem’ has achieved the status of a goal in itself, dissociated from any talent or mastery that might one might reasonably esteem ones self for. Thus feeling special – elect, meant for better things – has become the most ordinary sensation in the country.
A confession though : The first paragraph once applied to me. I did have a slight feeling of superiority over my fellow work drones for absolutely no other reason than I was "aware of the narrow confines of this existence, while their docile neighbors are not". Lately though I have come to recognize the importance of work for providing a routine for me to hang the rest of my life on.