Swede Levov

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Swede Levov

American Pastoral

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About Him

Living… in Old Rimrock, New Jersey, with his wife Dawn in the 1960s. They have a beautiful house, one of the few treasures in Swede’s life. Outside the house, America is rumbling with racial tension and Vietnam War protests, but they don’t touch Swede. That is, until his daughter Merry blows up a post office in a radical political gesture. 

Profession… businessman, searching for his daughter. He had the perfect middle-class life – or so he convinced himself – until Merry ruined it. Now she’s gone into hiding, and he wants to find her. He still can’t believe what she’s done.

Interests… trying to figure out what made Merry do what she did to that post office. Why did she leave? Why did she disown her family, the life he’d given her? What is the grudge? What is the grievance? At what moment, exactly, did she become this person?

Relationship Status… in a stifling marriage. He married a beauty queen and thought he’d have the perfect wife and kids with a white picket fence. Instead, by the time the 20th anniversary of her Miss America pageant rolled around, his wife was in the mental ward for the second time since Merry disappeared.

Challenge… coping with what his life has become. He played the game, did everything right, and still ended up losing: “After the bomb, he could never again take life as it came or trust that his life wasn't something very different from what he perceived… All the triumphs, when he probed them, seemed superficial. There was no longer any of the innocence he remembered in his past.” All he wanted was the American dream, a pastoral peace. Now he’s realizing that might not exist.

Personality… obsessed. He can't say he could ever forgive his daughter, but he can’t bring himself to hate her either. If he could hate her, he’d no longer have to feel loss, lament the past, speculate on where she is now or where she’ll end up. He’s caught between his emotions and an internal debate of whether he should even feel emotional

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