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“The Couples” and American Society at the Time

  ”The Couples” is John Updike’s fifth novel. The novel tells the daily life of several middle-class couples in the small town of Tuckbos, USA. The writer aims to use a small society and a few middle-aged people to Reflects the mental state of Americans in the 1960s. Facts show that when human beings do not need to work hard for three meals a day, their life instincts are often more vigorous than ever, and part of the vigorous life instincts can be transformed by engaging in some “elegant” entertainment activities, while the rest is easily degraded. Becoming a lower primal urge. This is also confirmed by the daily lives of several couples in the novel. On the one hand, they live a leisurely and prosperous life: partying, drinking, chatting, participating in various sports activities, but these seemingly fashionable and rich pastimes cannot be. To soothe their empty hearts, there is a scene in the novel that the honest and honest Chinese cannot understand: the couples in the small town, in addition to various entertainments, the biggest amateur “hobby” is adultery and wife swapping. The intellectuals have transformed into a group of “people” who avoid the sublime and indulge the flesh.
  Published in 1968, the novel hit the bestseller list in the United States overnight. The question is, how can a novel full of sensual descriptions impress or even shock Americans? The truth is actually very simple. This novel, which does not see any poetic and pure characters, is embodying the power of truth. By showing the “ugly Americans” and “American ugliness”, it gives those who are still immersed in the joy and happiness of their skin. Instinctively high-flying Americans take the punch: This is our life? ! Is our life so boring and ugly? !
  In the 1960s, later American cultural history, when looking back rationally at this period, called it the “mad generation.” Although fictional novels cannot be equated with the most realistic historical works, the life reflected in “The Couples” does have a clear connection with the American life of this era. The novel can be said to be a reference to the daily life of Americans in that era. Made a “brutal” exhibition.
  In the 1960s, the United States continued to make progress in an orderly manner in the creation of material wealth, but fell into a state of mania and disorder in the construction of cultural spirit. During this period, people of all walks of life pursued their ideal life in various ways. The feminist movement launched by women, the civil rights struggle launched by black people, the anti-war movement launched by people of insight, and the people who were too busy to panic launched The hippie movement of the United States has turned American society into a pot of porridge. It should be said that most of these various movements stem from a rational appeal: to seek a more reasonable social order and ideal living conditions. However, from rationality to irrationality, it was originally only one step away. These ideological trends originating from rational appeals have brought about a deeper irrational dilemma.
  During this period, the most eye-catching is the sexual liberation movement launched by energetic young people. It should be said that this movement that emerged in the 1920s has its original rationality and revolution, because its starting point is to subvert Puritan asceticism, restoring status and reputation for the pleasures of the human body. But by the 1960s, the movement did not lead to a better ending, but to the other extreme, that is, from “sexual liberation” to “sexual indulgence”, people originally wanted to get their bodies back from Puritanism. Autonomy, I didn’t expect to lose control over my body even more. Changes in concept and high-tech means such as contraception have added fuel to the fire. In the American society in the 1960s, premarital sex and extramarital sex became fashionable, and men were naturally overjoyed, even women who were shy and conservative. They, instigated by feminism, also began to satisfy their fleshly desires generously. With both parties in natural sex becoming so comfortable, games like married couples swapping sex partners were not beyond the concept of the time, and the protagonists of such games were often highly educated intellectuals.
  Changes in sexual attitudes and behaviors lead to changes in people’s views on marriage. The traditional purpose of marriage is to seek happiness. Although this happiness includes physical pleasure, it is far from limited to this. However, in the 1960s, Americans regarded physical pleasure as the main or even sole purpose of marriage, ignoring the overall function of marriage. And what marriage means to future generations, so once the pleasure of sex between couples diminishes or disappears, marriage loses its meaning to them, and divorce ensues. In the 1930s, the divorce rate of the entire American society was about 1/6 of the marriage rate. In 1945, because of the many hasty marriages during the war, the divorce rate during this period was about 30% of the marriage rate. In the 1940s It dropped to about 25% in the later period, but by the late 1960s and early 1970s, the divorce rate had risen sharply to 1/3 of the marriage rate.
  Knowing the state of American society in the 1960s, it’s easy to understand why the characters in the novel chanted the slogan “Sex, Hooray!”; virtuous” wife; why a man in a small town is one woman’s devoted lover and another woman’s “reliable” husband.
  The small town is the epitome of American society in the 1960s. The men and women in the small town are the symbols of the American people in the 1960s: In the 1960s, Americans no longer believed in religion for no reason. What emerges is the naked image of the mistresses. In their minds, God has abdicated, and the flesh has begun to ascend the throne, and has become their new belief, which also instructs them to completely give up their yearning for the sky, and willingly fall into the world. .
  Updike’s portrayal is so dispassionate and objective that we barely see his obvious moral judgment. But the writer still expresses his worries through a symbolic plot. In the novel, it is written that a golden bird is hovering over the town. This golden bird is God. That is to say, although God is silent, he Always watching every move in the world. The God of right and wrong has mercy on the rough, wild, and lustful people in the sky, and perhaps he will not immediately punish these people for their rudeness, but their descendants will be ashamed of their ancestors’ actions and bear the fault on their behalf. Because the reason is very simple, once a person is dominated by sexual desire and becomes a victim of desire, he will not only lose his nobility and dignity, but also lose his way and hope. This is by no means what people really expect. Such a scene is terrifying , so is also ugly. Updike uses his vivid story to call Americans to wake up from their confusion and return to their original place of God.

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