I saw the trailer to Revolutionary Road and it intrigued me. However, I’ve read a lot of critical reviews saying that the book is extremely better. Thus, I decided to check out the book and then see the movie afterwords.
The book starts off slow with the main characters, Frank and April Wheeler. They’re a married couple and they have fulfilled the American Dream: a family, a couple of kids, a house in a nice neighborhood, Frank has a steady job, April stays home and takes care of the kids. They have it all. The story takes place in the 1950s and the 1950s was a time where everyone tries to be everyone else. It’s the age of conformity. On a tangent, I think every age has this.
The book has an extremely simple plot, but it’s the theme of the book that grabs the reader: what if fulfilling the American Dream doesn’t make you happy? I guess using Aristotle’s language, what if you’re happy and content, but you haven’t achieved eudaimonia? That’s what this book is about. How do you do that? How do you escape from the comformity of it all? The characters find a way to escape, but through circumstances, they are forced to abandon their ultimate dream and must stay in the neighborhood. So here’s the question: many people have died for the American Dream. Indeed, that was what the Revolutionary War was about. Would you be willing to sacrfice something big to get away from the American Dream? Welcome to Revolutionary Road.
At the same time, I saw this as an existentialist book too. How can you stand out as an individual? How do you get away from the conformity of society? Can you live out your life living what you really want to do instead of having a job where it may be stale? Would you rather have an authentic existence, or financial security?
Yates does a wonderful job of expressing his characters that makes you relate with them. I really admired Frank and April and I despised the neighbors. The neighbors are your typical cookie cutter neighbors from the generic suburbs. As the book moves, you want to read more and more of it. It gradually sucks you in and it’s an instant page turner as you read more of it. I loved the ending. It’s as if these tragic events happen, but we either ignore it or we try to explain it away. Yates is powerful is suggesting, “here it is. Don’t look away! Don’t turn your back to this! You must face reality!” Reality is indeed not a fun place, but it’s the truth. Which would you rather have: happiness and conformity, or reality and melancholy? Yates suggests to go for the latter. At least with that, you’ll have your own true existence and individuality.
I should also add. If the trailer intrigues you, you might like the book. When my dad saw the trailer, he just thought it was a couple bickering. I guess it has to grab you first in order for you want to read it.