Abjection and Loss of Identity in Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road

Mahsa Sadat Razavi, Jalal Farzaneh Dehkordi


In this harrowing critique of 1950’s America, Richard Yates depicts a young family who while trying to fight their way out of the inundating mediocrity of life by fleeing to Europe, fail in their effort and fall apart. The 30-year-old husband, Frank Wheeler, unable to shake off the ghost of his father, tries to hide his insecurities behind a façade of individuality and intellectuality, while his wife, April, a failed actress, is deeply unhappy in her role as the suburban housewife. Both Wheelers are without a clear sense of self, and instead seek to define themselves by differentiating themselves from those around them. By using the notion of Abjection proposed by Julia Kristeva as a means of self-definition, this article aims to show that this novel depicts how the consumerism and the material obsession of the fifties has made this family abjectify the concept of family and parenthood, and how this idea especially manifests itself in April, as she chooses to turn into the ultimate abject, a corpse, rather than deny herself the last shred of difference from the suburban life by having a third child.


Abjection; Family; Identity; Suburbia

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/11844


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