Reading Placelessness and Suburbanization in Richard Yates

by Feder, Darcy Anne

Abstract (Summary)
The themes of suburbanization and placelessness arise in many of Yates novels, exposing the continuing pattern of conformity at any price which accompanied the rapidly-changing era of post-World War II America. As suburbanization began to take its toll on the American landscape, a new, increasingly placeless environment started to emerge; endless subdivisions of identical houses, commercial strip developments, shopping centers, and movie plazas sprang up, places which not only looked alike, but felt alike. A cultural shift accompanied this changing environment, one which embraced a new domestic ideal of the suburban family, an image constantly reinforced through the media of the time. Yates characters, while on the surface conforming to this ideal, imagine breaking free from their mundane lifestyles, harboring visions of untapped greatness within themselves. Ultimately, however, they lack the autonomy or strength of character needed to accomplish this break. Having existed for so long in an empty, shallow environment providing possibilities only for commonplace and mediocre experiences, they must cling desperately to safety and security at any price.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Brady Harrison

School:The University of Montana

School Location:USA - Montana

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:07/23/2007

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