Industrialism, Consumerism and the Transformation of the American Suburban Community: The Politics of Moderation and Self-Subsistence in Joyce Carol Oates's The Falls and John Updike's Villages


Büyüktuncay M.

Dokuz Eylül University FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON SOCIAL SCIENCES: SUSTAINIBILITY AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION, İzmir, Turkey, 22 June - 24 December 2022, pp.45-46

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: İzmir
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.45-46
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes

Abstract

The transformative effects of industralization and economic growth

on rural values and suburban lifestyles during the 1960s and 1970s in

the social history of the U.S. have not only been studied extensively

by economists and social scientists but also been vividly portrayed in

works of fiction by numereous contemporary American novelists.

Joyce Carol Oates’s The Falls (2004) and John Updike’s Villages (2004)

are among those novels that showcase the dire impact of

professional greed and technological progress on the social, moral

and ecological modes of self-reliance in the local and natural

contexts. Published in the same year, both novels present family

histories extended over several decades, which simultaneously

reflect a panorama of the political instability and capitalist

expansionism in the national scale. This study aims to examine the

ways the main characters of the two novels tolerate changes and

moderate extremes to survive against the backdrop of such massive

social and cultural transformation. Both novels exhibit the communal

and individual exercises of concealing truth and covering up of

impending catastrophe, which inevitably end up in manifest

hypocrisy. Given through reminiscences and flashbacks, the two

novels demonstrate the decomposition of middle-class Americanfamily due to slackened sexual mores in the same parallel with the

industrial despoiling of nature. It is eventually argued in this study

that the microcosmic disintegration of family and idyllic uniformity,

through Gothic imaginary in The Falls and in the guise of bedroom

farce in Villages, mirrors the the temptations of power politics and

complexities of economic degeneration in the national macrocosm.


Keywords: Moderation, consumerism, industrialism, selfsubsistence,

suburban imaginary.