Saturday, August 29, 2009

With respect for Justin Haythe

What Justin Haythe actually wrote in Revolitionary Road, as opposed to my butchered paraphrase:

Shep: You wanted out.

April: I wanted in. I wanted us to live again.

For years I thought we shared this secret: That we would be wonderful in the world. I didn't know exactly how; just the possibility kept me hoping. How pathetic is that? So stupid. All your hopes in a promise that was never made.

See, Frank knows, Franks knows what he wants. He's found his place, he's just fine. Married, two kids, should be enough. It is for him.

And he's right. We were never special or destined or anything at all.

Shep: Oh yes you are. You're the Wheeler's. You're a terrific couple. Everyone says so.

April: I saw a whole other future. I can't stop seeing it. Can't leave. Can't stay. No damn use to anyone.

C'mon, let's do it.

(And they go dancing. Which is an amazing performance in and of itself.)

Truly, one of my first thoughts about this speech was that April, as a character, was far too young to have made it. It's the speech, more properly, of someone at mid-life: someone who begins to think that if one had been destined: surely destiny would have arrived by now?

Did we all grow up thinking we were "special?"
Why would we think that? Where does it come from? Four hundred years ago we would have we were sinners.

And I hate to do this, but Wende, I must disagree. "What would I do?" in such a situation is interesting, I suppose. But I can't see that it would in any way be meaningful. Meaning really doen't exist without community. I'm not sure if I could defend that notion or where exactly I've picked it up, but language is not a one person affair.

If I were on a Desert Island--I would not, could not be "special." The word, as I am thinking of it here only has meaning in the sense of the greater community as a whole. I know this seems contrary to the dialogue above and perhaps that is a clue I am misconstruing this and warping it into my own thing: but I would simply argue that Shep's "everybody thinks so" is simply the wrong "everybody." She wanted Paris--something outside the norms and the boundaries in which they lived. She wanted to transcend them, somehow. She certainly wanted to transcend the boundaries of her own life. And you can't do that without a dream, without the belief that it is possible. She gives up the dream, gives up the belief and there's really nothing left.

As in all properly written tragedies, there really is no choice for the character but self-destruction, unfortunately. But as a catharsis and release for the audience member--the viewer can say, "No. Stop. Wait. There. That's where a choice could have been made." Maybe. Maybe she could have chosen to be "the housewife" she felt Frank deserved. Whatever else she could have been, this at least she would be.

But, I'm afraid I'm truly speaking only for myself, here.
I made this choice this past year.

And now I think I'm asking: "And what else?"

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