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Fear: The deconstruction of normality

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The myth of the 1950s.
  3. Cheever's description.
  4. The superficial lives of the characters.
    1. The functioning of Irene's character.
    2. The unsolved internal conflicts.
  5. The common link between Updike and Cheever.
  6. Fundamental differences between Rabbit and Cheever's Jim and Irene.
  7. The continuation of the differences between the characters.
  8. The distinction between the two authors.
  9. Conclusion.
  10. Works cited.

In all honesty and truthfulness, post-war, American authors have produced quite a frightening element in this country's literary discourse. Frightening, because they amass self-critical observations that have ultimately led to paranoia regarding the reliability of life's constructs and realities. John Cheever's. ?The Enormous Radio,? and John Updike's, Rabbit Run, both address two different forms of self-awareness in the 1950s. This noted self-awareness becomes the source, subject, and result of fear. Fear, the basic human emotion, brought about by uncertainty, can find its cause and effect highlighted amongst the prose of Cheever and Updike. Their central characters find fear to be a circulating occurrence between questioning the status and stability of oneself and the role of the self in the surrounding society.

[...] It is easy to understand why they should fear the deconstruction of this environment as it offers them stability and clearly defined roles and ways to find happiness. Rabbit, as we know, was never so fortunate and couldn't find this sense of happiness from his marriage or job. He just didn't feel like he fit that mold. His thrills come from playing basketball, and still being able to win. His thrills come from things out of the ordinary, just as Irene soon learns, too. [...]


[...] The radio and its out of the ordinary power invigorated her. It changed her daily routine and she quickly became addicted to constantly listening to it. Her thrill came from voyeurism, which was a variable to her environment. Each character, as we know, finds their own ways to deal with their respective realities. The differences between the characters continue, whereas Updike's Rabbit willingly accepts his discontent, Cheever must force it upon Jim and Irene. He must use surrealist elements in order to make them see that their society is a fraud. [...]


[...] The society of the 1950s stressed materialism, consumption, and optimism. These were such essential outlooks because the country was hiding so much internal strife and fear. Americans stretched to believe that their lives were perfect, and many of them accomplished that. Jim and Irene present the state of America in the 1950s, as they were full of blind optimism and empty expectations. Updike's Rabbit offers the reader a glimpse at where the society was headed. So much internal struggle and unsatisfied desires led to the culmination of a new American society that broke down social constructs. [...]

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