The Human Stain Themes

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While Roth's treatments of the human condition often argue that life makes no sense (see, for example American Pastoral in which Seymour "Swede" Levov, his paragon of decency and convention, learns just that lesson), The Human Stain argues a profound question, one that poets have been examining for thousands of years. How do you know who you are, the Sophoclean question? And what are the consequences of either not knowing or of denying one's identity? At the heart of this thematic question is the related one of knowing and recognizing one's parents. When a parent denies a child or a child denies his parent, the consequences for the individual and society are profound. When Coleman denies his mother because she is black, Roth has created one of the most painful and moving scenes in all his work. Here is the most fateful, intensely painful emotional transaction possible between parent...

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This section contains 710 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Human Stain Study Guide
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