Letting our Age Define Us
Age is a major theme in Super Sad True Love Story, a dystopian novel set in the near future. This includes both personal age, as in how old one is, and the different ages we live in. Joshie Goldman, on one hand, is constantly trying to go back in time and make himself look young again through replacing parts of his body. He also tries desperately hard to flirt with Eunice, who is much younger in age than him. This desire parallels the dystopian nature of the future, suggesting that we are much better off younger and in an earlier age than older in the future. Society has majorly regressed in the book, and Joshie believes that he has regressed as well. While we usually like to think that forward movement in time is related to forward progression, the novel tells us that forward movement in time refers to regression.
Lenny also makes comments about age and when life will end through his diary entries. For example, the opening sentence of his diary reads, “Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die,” indicating that he never wants his life to end. The fact that the diary starts with this marks the importance of the statement. Eunice is also 15 years younger than Lenny, so while his interest in her isn’t as bizarre as Joshie, there is still a major age difference between the two characters that plays a large role in shaping their relationship.
The novel presents a society that is overwhelmingly youth-obsessed, and it is quite frightening. However, after my initial shock and disgust, I started to realize that it wasn’t quite as far off from our current society as I thought. While people don’t replace organs to look younger, plastic surgery is everywhere and the cosmetic industry is definitely in the business of trying to make people look younger. A major part of our economy is comprised of youth enhancing products and procedures, just as in the novel.
The second way that age is referenced in the book, more concerned with eras than individuals, is also seen in our modern day society. For example, earlier decades are romanticized and yearned for. In movies such as Midnight in Paris and The Great Gatsby, the past is presented as much more beautiful and less corrupt than the present.