By Sinclair Lewis

A private obstacle jars a middle-aged actual property agent from his complacency during this satire of middle-class American lifestyles. Sinclair Lewis' nice novel bargains a scathing portrait of the results of clinging to standard values.

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56 Philosophers, poets, the "state" are all rendered to ludicrous sameness when they leave themselves agape to universal truths. They become, not intact, enclosed individuals embraced by natural correlatives of themselves, but, like programmed ants, departmental. Having become part of the whole, they may only proceed programmatically. Reliance on the external systems by which Bildung is traditionally effected is counterproductive, urging one toward formlessness, but philosophical, social, and political despair is prideful folly: "It is immodest of a man to think of himself as going down before the worst forces ever mobilized by God" (Prose 105).

319-21). If earth were heaven, one might as well be dead. Community, with its necessary imposition of public values, threatens to subvert personal autonomy, and in Frost's vision its systems are transitory enthusiasms that may well devalue or distort the heautocratic balance: the will must be left to make its own order. 57 He would not favor political revolution, not so much out of resistance to (political) disorder, but because he sees as its inevitable outcome a reinstatement of the status quo: as "A Semi-Revolution" says, "The trouble with a total revolution / .

It is not, then, just the parents of the wounded son in "Out, Out —" who refuse to distinguish between the boy who is a "big boy / Doing a man's work, though a child at heart," and the man, for Frost too sees the urgency of pulling a son into manhood. The implicit dichotomy Frost establishes between those males who are designated "sons" and those represented as "men" suggests that it is the empowered mother who thwarts manhood with her hysteria, mysticism, and superstition, and with her hunger for men, beginning with her sons.

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