Study Guide

American Pastoral Politics

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American Pastoral is steeped in politics, and you can find something super-political on nearly every page. Through the eyes of the Swede, the novel questions the extent to which politics impacts our lives, and asks whether there is any area of life safe from the complexities of the political world. (And the answer is probably "No.")

American Pastoral explores a variety of intense political positions. It shows how the Swede's awareness of politics changes when his daughter bombs the local post office to protest the Vietnam War. He is forced to examine his neutral political approach under a bright and uber-harsh light.

Questions About Politics

  1. What are some of the political positions explored in the novel?
  2. Is there any aspect of the novel that can be looked at separately from politics?
  3. How do politics shape the Swede's pre-bombing vision of America?
  4. Does Merry understand politics? Does she effect political change through any of her actions?

Chew on This

By dropping bombs and killing innocent civilians, Merry embraces the political position she claims to be trying to destroy.

The Swede's love for Merry transcends the novel's politics.

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