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schencka
American Social Structure and Its Discontents
Tags: memoir

I always think it's interesting to think of what it means to be American, in a certain place and time, and making sense of identity within that. I like this quote, from here:

Franzen equates these expectations with a specific moment in American history: "I grew up in the middle of the country in the middle of the golden age of the American middle class." Franzen is explicit about this: For better and worse, an entire midcentury social structure, itself the legacy of the New Deal and a permanently militarized state fighting the Cold War, allowed him his sheltered childhood. For a brief moment, some time after child labor had been eradicated but some time before the absolute supremacy of the culture of divorce, people role-played within a nuclear family and with a fairly high degree of confidence: father, breadwinner; mother, homemaker; child, mooncalf. "My father was plagued by the suspicion that adolescents were getting away with something," Franzen writes, "that their pleasures were insufficiently trammeled by conscience and responsibility." Franzen's father liked to drive home the difference between him, a hardworking engineer, and his layabout son. "He had a double-edged phrase he couldn't stop repeating whenever he came home from work and found me reading a novel or playing with my friends: 'One continuous round of pleasure!' "

This reminds me of misterskank 's tales of yore. Certainly, since I'm 25 years old, and my parents were affected as relative youths by the spirit of the 1960s, but it's true that "work" did not involve smiling while I was growing up. Until now, and G-d bless. --adam

 

 
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