Hegemonic Masculinity in Crisis: The Swede’s Disobedience in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral
Focusing on Philip Roth’s novel, American Pastoral, the article explores the case of the main characters’ families, with major focus on fathers, more precisely on Seymour Levov, also known as the Swede and Lou Levov, Seymour’s father. Philip Roth is reputed as being an essentially masculine author in whose writings the fathers are not always depicted as having a constructive influence on the male identity. In this novel are to be found two paternal figures whose concepts of child education are set against each other. Caught between his father’s strict authority and Merry’s brutal disavowal, the Swede is distressed by his incapacity to maintain the patriarchal legacy as a son and a father, too. By exploring the main character of this novel, this article inquires into how men manage, or not, to reconcile their hegemonic and the patriarchal roles. The Swede’s denial of his ethnic experience is a transgression of the paternal authority which is further evoked through a wider crisis of masculinity and paternity in the novel. Philip Roth has often set the internal antagonisms – generally the conflict between traditional and temporal values – against the background of family. In this particular novel one finds that father’s disobedience can lead to constructing hegemonic masculinity in crisis.
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