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The relationship between Merry and the Swede

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The author Philip Roth is one of the leading Americas novelists. He was born in New Jersey on March 1933. He has served in US army and also written other numerous books including the plot against America and the ghost writers. This essay discusses the relationship between merry and Swede and how this leads to the novel being a “tragedy.”

Swede was Merry father. She was Clever and talented, and she portrayed a sense of affection and enthusiasm. During her early years, she passed through Catholic Church catechism. During this time she kept a book about Hepbun Audrey. Merry’s prominent disorder was stuttering. This was neither cured by psychiatrists nor speech therapists (Roth, 28).

During teenage hood, Merry’s conduct departed steadily from normalcy. She staunchly opposed the Vietnam War, understood the tools of politics and adopted strong opposition behavior. This appalled her father very much.

On the other hand Seymour Levove, nicknamed as Swede, due to his blond hair and fine complexion, comes out as the main character in the novel. He is the father of Merry. During high school days, Swede was superb not only in football but also in basketball and baseball.

The relationship between Merry and Swede has lead to the novel being a tragedy. This comes out vividly as the novel unfolds. First, there is a sense of rebellion between the two. This is vividly reflected when Merry inexplicably turns against his father and becoming a terrorist. She completely refuses advice from the father. This action leaves Swede devastated and regretting (Roth, 33).

Secondly, pretence is also reflected in both characters as they go through life. This has left the family more fragile and uncertain. Merry’s behavior changes drastically and consistently and she no longer give her father the respect she deserves. Although this change leaves Swede pretty devastated and shameful, he does not want to admit the reality (Roth, 143). Swedes family and life is not the same again but he covers his anguish with his usual calm outward demeanor. Swede still deeply loves Merry. This contradicts opinion held by other people like Jerry Levov who refers to her as a “monster.”

Both Merry and Swede have nurtured Irresponsible behavioral traits. To some significant extend, no one is fully responsible. Merry, for instance, decides to go on her own way and cultivate antisocial acts such as terrorism. Swede on the other hand fails to take advice from colleagues such as Jerry whom he vehemently refutes his notion that; as a father, he was too permissive to Merry. Regardless of his child being errant, Swede was pretty accommodating and indulgent. This character has made them incompatible and offensive to each other (Roth, 55). More so, Swede takes five years without setting his eyes on Merry. This is disturbing to both of them and shows how detached they are

It was also apparent that the life of the Merry and Swede was engulfed with shame and pain. This comes out clearly immediately after the bombing of the post office by Merry. Swede is really disturbed by the act of his daughter. This goes to the extent of tinting the social image of Swede who losses the trust of people like Jerry. Swede is described by Jerry as, "plagued with shame and uncertainty and pain for the rest of his life." Swede’s family became a social misfit.

There is also lack of respect between the two characters. This is out rightly portrayed by Merry’s behavior when she asks her father to kiss her the way he kisses her mother. Although Swede resists, he later gives in. Furthermore, in some instances, Merry stays late into the night out of home. This forces her father to burn her from leaving the house during Saturdays which unfortunately, makes her more repulsive.

Although Merry’s father tried to critically reason with her, she became rude and abusive towards him. Her poor relationship with her father worsened when she developed hatred towards him. At the age of sixteen, Merry planted a bomb which led to the destruction of a post office at Rimrock. In the event of that occurrence, a doctor died. This made her regarded as “stubborn streak” and “Rimrock bomber” by other members of the society.

Egocentric character trait is also portrayed by both Swede and his daughter Merry. This character trait has further plunged Swede’s family into confusion, tragedy and made them incapacitated to solve out their social problems. Merry for instance, has developed violent attitude towards other members of the society and she does not care about them. She destroys properties of others and murders a doctor while executing a terrorist attack. To further proof how egoistic she can be, she gains personal satisfaction at the expense of her father’s dignity by making him kiss her like he kisses her mother (Roth, 114).

Swede on the other hand does not care for the advice he is given by his colleagues like Jerry. Regardless off Merry’s antisocial behavior, Swede is still accommodative and indulgent towards her. He does not show consistent effort in guiding and counseling his daughter Merry. Although Swede’s family is never the same again, he covers his anguish with his usual calm outward demeanor. This makes the novel a tragedy.

The relationship of Swede and her daughter was can also be described as of a bully and the bullied. From the unfolding of events in the novel, Swede seems to be docile. His daughter has overwhelmed him and he no longer wields the authority he is supposed to (Roth, 115). He forces his dad to kiss her, leaves home for more five years without informing his dad Swede and also develops her expertise in bomb assembly at Oregon, Portland without the consent of her dad.


This essay has discussed the relationship between Swede and her daughter Merry and how it leads to the novel being a tragedy. This has been depicted vividly by the sour relationship between the two with merry acquiring a repulsive and antisocial behavior. Their relationship between them has been abrasive, abusive, rebellious egoistic and full of pretence.

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