Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next few weeks are a blur of planning and excitement for Frank and April. Looking back later, Frank can only remember the next day at the office. Feeling extremely powerful, he speaks kindly to Maureen, telling her there is nothing to regret and he hopes that they can be friends. She agrees. Then Frank tackles the problem of the branch manager in Toledo who needs a new pamphlet, dictating a straightforward sales message about the advantages of using a computer. He takes care of several other orders of business, too. He thinks the reason he is working so hard is because April said the previous night that he had slaved away for years at Knox, while he knows he has never worked hard there. Then he rebukes himself for worrying what April thinks of his job, which he will leave forever soon. At the end of the day, Frank dumps a large pile of paperwork into the trash.
Frank initially feels confident and nearly euphoric after he and April decide to move to Europe. This is not because he feels that moving to Europe will solve the problem that April explained it would – his need to discover his true calling – but because he finally feels united with April and confident that he is a man she respects and loves. He immediately tells Maureen that they shouldn’t sleep together again, because he only ever wanted to sleep with her to boost his confidence. The only thing he is self-conscious about is using this energy to do his work, which he has led April to believe exhausts and frustrates him.
Themes
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
For the next few blurry weeks, Frank thinks of little besides his time at home with April. They spend their time talking confidentially about their plans. April is charming and graceful, not angry or tense. Frank feels also that he has begun to speak more confidently and eloquently. Jennifer and Michael are puzzled by their parents’ announcement that the family will be moving to France. Their parents act strangely and pay little attention to them, but at least they no longer wake their children up by fighting late into the night. One night, Frank paces the living room, denouncing the sentimentality of their neighbors. Another night he tells April that he feels alive in the same way he did when he was preparing to go into battle during the war. April replies by saying she felt that alive the first time he made love to her.
Frank and April are in perfect sync as he acts the part of the man she loves and she showers him with affirmation. She supports his perception of himself as a powerful figure whom she respects, and his insecurities melt away. Frank thinks back on his experience in the army, when he first became confident of himself as a man, while April flatteringly suggests that having sex with him for the first time was one of the great moments in her life. Neither parent pays much attention to their children’s feelings, however, while the children are acutely aware of the change in their parents’ behavior.
Themes
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
A few weeks later, the perfect fantasy begins to crack for Frank. When Frank asks April why she seems set on moving to Paris instead of elsewhere in Europe, April explains that his knowledge of the language and the neighborhoods will be helpful to them. Frank feels shaken, wondering if he really gave her the impression that he knows French. He tries to reassure himself, but he hardly knows French, and only knows the city from wandering around it as a soldier and visiting prostitutes, feeling excluded from the sophisticated life of real Parisians. Frank is even more surprised one night to hear that April went into New York City that day and applied at an overseas employment agency, made arrangements for their passports and bought several books in French, including a French grammar for him that is much too advanced. Sensing Frank’s discomfort, April apologizes for doing these things, saying that he would have been better at handling them.
Frank begins to realize that moving to Europe will force him to live up to his own portrayal of himself to April. He has always played the role of the sophisticated, brilliant man of the world trapped in a humdrum suburban life, and now he fears that these pretensions will be unmasked. He feels worried that he will lose April’s love and respect if he doesn’t live up to the image he has given her of himself. He is also made uncomfortable by the way April is doing things independently, without consulting him. This undermines his feeling that she depends on him, which is necessary to his sense of himself as a confident, strong man.
Themes
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
The next night, April tells Frank that she has bad news. Helen Givings invited them to dinner the next day. April declined, but then, realizing they needed to speak to Helen about selling the house, agreed that Helen should come visit them after dinner instead. Hopefully, she says, they can deal with Helen only as a realtor from then on. But after settling this with Helen, April remembered prior plans with the Campbells. Milly sounded so hurt when April tried to cancel that April agreed they would visit the Campbells that night instead. April apologizes for scheduling such a boring weekend, but Frank secretly feels excited to tell the Campbells about moving to Europe. He asks April not to tell Mrs. Givings their plan for Europe, and April replies that they don’t need to tell the Campbells either. Frank is about to object that the Campbells are their friends and he wants to tell them, but stops himself.
April’s attitude is that they will soon leave their boring life behind. She has already written off the Campbells as uninteresting people who are unworthy of their friendship. Frank, on the other hand, still cares about the Campbells. His self-esteem is boosted when he plays up his image as a freethinker and they applaud him for it. Yet Frank is also worried about telling Mrs. Givings that April plans to work in Europe while he makes no income. Just as when Frank was self-conscious about Mrs. Givings seeing April mow the lawn, he now worries that she thinks he does not take his responsibilities as a man and husband seriously.
Themes
Marriage and Selfhood Theme Icon
Manhood and Womanhood Theme Icon
Class, Taste, and Status Theme Icon
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