Professor Jodi Teitel
October 28, 2014
America’s Obsession to stay young
Joseph Epstein’s “The Perpetual Adolescent”, has a very stubborn outlook on society’s obsession to stay young. It has become a norm to remain in one’s adolescent phase of life rather than to continue onto the adult stage. Epstein points out faults of the perpetual adolescent by demonstrating how this child-like state prevents people from taking life seriously. His one-sided views depict a society that is devoid of actual grown-ups, capable of making mature responsible decisions. Through his usage of rhetorical devices such as comparison, Epstein compares the many differences in eras. The first example he uses is the acceptance of casual clothes where suit and tie were once the norm. In the 1940’s “a suit and a fedora or other adult hat” (page 391) was the norm at a baseball game whereas now people wear jeans, tee shirts and baseball caps. Epstein believes that this casualness is a representation of their lack of serious attitude. He extends into how even corporate CEO’S are dressing less seriously. CEO’S chose to dress down sometimes but this doesn’t mean they’re immature. He believes that this informality has led to the sinking of many companies but, Steve Jobs the CEO of Apple did most of his meetings in turtle necks and jeans and yet he was the reason for Apples success.
Epstein also begins to compare the difference between these two eras and their lifestyles. In today’s life young people are working with, “strong safety nets of money under them… and with all options opened, they now swim in a sea of possibilities, and one of these possibilities in America is to refuse to grow up for a longer period.” This doesn’t seem fair to Epstein because in his time period the youth were getting jobs at the age of eight teen in order to support their family. He believes that this negative impact is the reason why many are immature today. Epstein