The Suburban Life In Goodbye, Columbus By Phillip Roth

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The Suburban Life
In Phillip Roth’s, Goodbye, Columbus, Neil and Brenda live in different socioeconomic classes. While Neil lives in the large and old city of Newark, NJ, Brenda lives in the posh suburbs of Short Hill, NJ. During the 1950s to 60s, the location in which a family lived often indicated their social status. The wealthier classes often lived in the suburbs because they could afford expensive items such as cars to transport themselves to and from their work. Those living in the cities were often middle-class citizens or part of the minority races. The suburbs and the city even have a separate phone book. Roth uses this disparity to communicate the differences between Brenda and Neil. Brenda’s nice house and cohesive family would
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The family dinner at his house shouldn’t even be called “family” because all members of the family eat at separate and with separate dishes. While he doesn’t seem dissatisfied with his current lifestyle, he shows some impatience with Aunt Gladys at dinner and awe of the suburban life when he meets Brenda. However, his jobs seem to be a fixed point Neil often reflects on in which he enjoys protecting the young African American child from both the racial discrimination of other employees as well as other customers who want to check out his Gaugin books. As the novel progresses, Neil begins to realize how much he likes his job at the library and eventually choses city life and the library over a wealthy suburban life and a minimally fulfilling but well-paying job at the Patimkin’s sink …show more content…
As he begins to drive towards Brenda’s house, he feels as if “the hundred and eighty feet the suburbs rose in altitude above Newark brought it one step closer to heaven.” (Roth 5) Upon looking at the tailored lawns and the enlarged sun, Neil immediately reflect back to his own living arrangements where his Aunt and Uncle “[share] a Mounds bar in the cindery darkness of their alley, on beach chairs, each cool breeze sweet to them as the promise of afterlife.” (Roth 9) While the suburbs feel like he is brought closer to heaven, the attainment of heaven in his city life is a mere breeze in the wind. Brenda acts as his way into the suburbia life. When Neil sees the “two wet triangles on the back of her tiny-collared white polo shit, right where her wings would have been if she’d had a pair,” (Roth, 11) he views Brenda as an angel who was meant to bring him to “heaven.” However, his attempts to love her and to appease her seem to only make him less happy. In order to live in the suburban life, Neil must work for Mr. Patimkin’s sink business in order to support Brenda. However, Neil does not marvel in this idea. Brenda and Neil begin to go on runs which eventually turns into Brenda timing Neil to always go faster, a harbinger to the work Neil would have to do in the future to keep Brenda happy. The societal pressures that Neil must face if he were to attain a suburban lifestyle will only make him

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