Revolutionary Road

Shep Campbell Character Analysis

Coddled by his wealthy divorced mother as a child, by adolescence Shep Campbell feels determined to grow up to be tough. He feels that his wealth will make people think he is soft, and so he rejects all signs of it. After rising through the ranks of the army during the war, Shep goes to a technical college to become a mechanical engineer. He meets Milly and they marry, settling in Arizona. Several years later, Shep begins to regret that he rejected the world he grew up in. After a period of confusion, he moves his family to New York City, and then eventually to Connecticut. Shep has become reconciled to the compromises in his life, feeling grateful for experiences from his “tough guy period” and equal to people like Frank Wheeler who went to college in the East. Shep appreciates Milly for sticking with him when he went through a crisis, but their marriage is not romantic, and he has a deep crush on April Wheeler, whom he sees as the embodiment of good taste and the East coast culture he turned his back on.

Shep Campbell Quotes in Revolutionary Road

The Revolutionary Road quotes below are all either spoken by Shep Campbell or refer to Shep Campbell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Revolutionary Road published in 2000.
Part 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

"In order to agree with that," she said, "I'd have to have a very strange and very low opinion of reality. Because you see I happen to think this is unrealistic. I think it's unrealistic for a man with a fine mind to go on working like a dog year after year at a job he can’t stand, coming home to a house he can’t stand in a place he can’t stand either, to a wife who's equally unable to stand the same things, living among a bunch of frightened little—my God, Frank, I don’t have to tell you what's wrong with this environment—I’m practically quoting you. Just last night when the Campbells were here, remember what you said about the whole idea of suburbia being to keep reality at bay? You said everybody wanted to bring up their children in a bath of sentimentality. You said—”
"I know what I said. I didn’t think you were listening, though. You looked sort of bored."
"I was bored. That's part of what I'm trying to say. I don't think I've ever been more bored and depressed and fed up in my life than I was last night. All that business about Helen Givings's son on top of everything else, and the way we all grabbed at it like dogs after meat; I remember looking at you and thinking 'God, if only he'd stop talking.' Because everything you said was based on this great premise of ours that we're somehow very special and superior to the whole thing, and I wanted to say 'But we're not! Look at us! We're just like the people you're talking about! We are the people you're talking about!' I sort of had—I don’t know, contempt for you, because you couldn't see the terrific fallacy of the thing.”

Page Number: 115-116
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

And she had managed to give every room of it the spare, stripped-down, intellectual look that April Wheeler called "interesting." Well, almost every room. Feeling fond and tolerant as he rolled his shoe rag into a waxy cylinder, Shep Campbell had to admit that this particular room, this bedroom, was not a very sophisticated place. Its narrow walls, papered in a big floral design of pink and lavender, held careful bracket shelves that in turn held rows of little winking frail things made of glass; its windows served less as windows than as settings for puffed effusions of dimity curtains, and the matching dimity skirts of its bed and dressing table fell in overabundant pleats and billows to the carpet. It was a room that might have been dreamed by a little girl alone with her dolls and obsessed with the notion of making things nice for them among broken orange crates and scraps of cloth in a secret shady corner of the back yard…and whose quick, frightened eyes, as she worked, would look very much like the eyes that now searched this mirror for signs of encroaching middle age.

Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 3, Chapter 7 Quotes

What a subtle, treacherous thing it was to let yourself go that way! Because once you'd started it was terribly difficult to stop; soon you were saying "I'm sorry, of course you're right," and "Whatever you think is best," and "You're the most wonderful and valuable thing in the world," and the next thing you knew all honesty, all truth, was as far away and glimmering, as hopelessly unattainable as the world of the golden people. Then you discovered you were working at life the way the Laurel Players worked at The Petrified Forest, or the way Steve Kovick worked at his drums—earnest and sloppy and full of pretension and all wrong…then you were breathing gasoline as if it were flowers and abandoning yourself to a delirium of love under the weight of a clumsy, grunting, red-faced man you didn't even like—Shep Campbell!—and then you were face to face, in total darkness, with the knowledge that you didn’t know who you were.

Page Number: 320-321
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 3, Chapter 9 Quotes

And the funny part, he suddenly realized, the funny part was that he meant it. Looking at her now in the lamplight, this small, rumpled, foolish woman, he knew he had told the truth. Because God damn it, she was alive, wasn’t she? If he walked over to her chair right now and touched the back of her neck, she would close her eyes and smile, wouldn’t she? Damn right, she would…Then she would go to bed, and in the morning she'd get up and come humping downstairs again in her torn dressing gown with its smell of sleep and orange juice and cough syrup and stale deodorants, and go on living.

Page Number: 350
Explanation and Analysis:
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Shep Campbell Character Timeline in Revolutionary Road

The timeline below shows where the character Shep Campbell appears in Revolutionary Road. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...is falling apart, her performance also falters. Another distractingly bad performance is put in by Shep Campbell, who all the Laurel Players had only allowed to be a part of the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...are trying to laugh off their failure. Milly Campbell calls to Frank that she and Shep will see him and April later for a drink, and Frank agrees. He goes into... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...play was not very good, but Helen says that it was fine except “Mr. Crandell” (Shep Campbell) was badly cast. Helen always speaks condescendingly of those who live in the Revolutionary... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
...from the Campbells, because April will have to pretend they aren’t fighting in front of Shep and Milly. (full context)
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
That evening, Shep and Milly arrive, and the four friends arrange themselves with their drinks in the living... (full context)
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...talk to April about what it would feel like to have an insane child, while Shep begins to ask Frank practical questions about the legality of institutionalizing a person forcibly. Frank... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
Shep Campbell polishes his shoes in preparation for that evening’s visit from the Wheelers. He relishes... (full context)
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
Shep and Milly were living in Arizona when he suddenly began to feel alienated from those... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
Shep has also come to appreciate Milly, and feels grateful that he went through his “tough... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
As Shep gets ready, he remembers an occasion, almost a year ago, when he danced with April... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...looking at one another, as if deciding whether to include the Campbells in their secret. Shep conceals his distress, while Milly tells the Wheelers that they will miss them. Later, Shep... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...few nights later, the Wheelers tell the Campbells that they are not moving. Milly and Shep say they are glad that Frank and April are staying, but Shep feels unsettled. Since... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
In the two-year period when Frank, April, Shep, and Milly were becoming close, but before they had joined the Laurel Players, the two... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
One night, after failing to come up with conversational topics, Frank, April, Shep, and Milly go back to the Log Cabin. April is withdrawn and silent, but Frank... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...one is blocked in. April says that Frank should take Milly home while she and Shep stay at the bar until the car is free. Shep can hardly believe that he... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Shep returns to the bar. To his pleasure, April says she doesn’t mind that the car... (full context)
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Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
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Suddenly, April asks Shep to jitterbug. Shep abandons himself to the dance, enraptured by the way April looks dancing.... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
...who tells her she saw an ambulance pulling out of the Wheelers’ driveway. Milly calls Shep. (full context)
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
At work, Shep is thinking about April and their incredible night together. He had called her afterwards and... (full context)
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Frank arrives and Shep drives him to the hospital. Frank looks terrible and it scares Shep. When they arrive,... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Later, Shep can hardly remember what happens over the course of the next few hours. He drives... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
...did a good job keeping calm in front of the children, but when Frank and Shep get to the Campbells’ house, Milly feels she is of no help. Shep tells her... (full context)
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
...closet and embraces her clothes, then finds the note she left him. At that moment, Shep arrives, looking for Frank. Frank hides in the closet, only coming out after Shep has... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 9
Conformity, Mental Illness, and Psychology Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
In the months following April’s death, Shep listens to Milly describe what happened many times. He feels annoyed at the way Milly... (full context)
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Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
Milly tells the Braces that she and Shep had not seen Frank again until he came back for the sale of the house.... (full context)