Textual Analysis of the Perpetual Adolescent

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Textual Analysis of the Perpetual Adolescent

By | December 2012
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Textual Analysis
“The Perpetual Adolescent” is an observational piece by Joseph Epstein. He suggests that modern adult acts much more childish than the previous generations of middle aged people. A big part of acting like a younger person is dressing like a younger person. According to Epstein, the dressed down adult is the immature adult, which in turn leads to many adults trying to copy the modern and hip youth culture. This in turn created more relaxed environments across all career fields, leaving less “true” adults. He feels that American now want to stay young forever instead of maturing into the adults of their parent's generations. Epstein believes that this mentality is flawed, leaving the people in positions of power striving to act like their children. Since pop culture permeates into every corner of American society, the focus of staying youthful in America started, and has continued to stay, there. In the 1940's, every adult male was dressed nicely at a sporting event, but now, a “good part of the crowd...is wearing jeans and team caps and T-shirts...” (par. 2). Life in America has become more casual, due to the relaxed attitude stemming from the 1950's. Epstein does not like this. He seems to feel like America is losing strength as a respectable nation because most of the adults in the country do not want to grow up and take on their adult responsibilities and dress codes. Epstein has not completely given up on middle aged America yet. According to him, “There still are adults in America...Alan Greenspan, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Robert Rubin, Warren Buffett, Sol Linowitz...”(par.8). This list seems impressive, but since the average teenage reader may not recognize any of the names his list, the allusion he presents is wasted on a younger audience. It may work on the older readers who the author may be trying to alert of the youth culture shift, but the list may still be outdated. According to Epstein, “The shift into youth culture began in...[with]...
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