An Althusserian Reading of John Dos Passos’ The 42nd Parallel, the First Volume of the Trilogy U.S.A.

Hamid Reza Zamanian


This paper discusses the devastating effects of the State ideology-enforced through multiple ISAs and RSAson the lives of individuals; as a matter of fact it aims to investigate such impacts on the lives of members of the working class. In this work of research, the main focus of attention is to show how ideology plays the dominant role in the lives and fates of members of the mentioned class and how ultimately those members are incarcerated in the impossible walls of ideological determination, to the extent that failure, loss, marginality, and frustration are the most noteworthy lifetime experiences of such individuals. The ideologically-stricken American society of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are-as described by Dos Passos in his The 42nd Parallel-the center of attention in this study. The researcher has tried to depict how such deterministic forces influence the lives of individuals from the very beginning stages of their lives; how individuals, lacking free will, lose their identity and simply turn into subjects of the State ideology. In addition to the fictional instances taken from the work under study, the researcher has included historical facts and figures regarding the unavoidable reigning of the ideology, and this attempt makes this study original and novel. In fact this work depicts one of the main characters’ (Mac) odyssey toward his meaningless destiny, produced and directed by ideology and its supporting institutions.

Key Words: Ideology; ISA; RSA; Individualism; Subject; Interpellation; Overdetermination


Ideology; ISA; RSA; Individualism; Subject; Interpellation; Overdetermination



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