"The Swede [Seymour Levov] had got up off the ground and he’d done it – a second marriage, a second shot at a unified life controlled by good sense and the classic restraints, once again convention shaping everything, large and small, and serving as barrier against the improbabilities – a second shot at being the traditional devoted husband and father, pledging allegiance all over again to the standard rules and regulations that are the heart of family order. He had the talent for it, had what it took to avoid anything disjointed, anything special, anything improper, anything difficult to assess or understand. (…)
He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach – that it makes no sense. And when that happens the happiness is never spontaneous again. It is artificial and, even then, bought at the price of an obstinate estrangement from oneself and one’s history. The nice gentle man with his mild way of dealing with conflict and contradiction, the confident ex-athlete sensible and resourceful in any struggle with an adversary who is fair, comes up against the adversary who is not fair – the evil ineradicable from human dealings – and he is finished. He whose natural nobility was to be exactly what he seemed to be has taken in far too much suffering to be naively whole again. Never again will the Swede be content in the trusting old Swedian way that, for the sake of his second wife and their three boys – for the sake of their naive wholeness – he ruthlessly goes on pretending to be. Stoically he suppresses his horror. He learns to live behind a mask. A lifetime experiment in endurance. A performance over a ruin. Swede Levov lives a double life.
And now he is dying and what sustained him in a double life can sustain him no longer, and that horror mercifully half submerged, two-third submerged, even at times nine-tenths submerged, comes back distilled despite the heroic creation of that second marriage and the fathering of the wonderful boys; in the final months of the cancer, it’s back worse than ever (…)."
Philip Roth. American Pastoral. Vintage, 1998. p. 81-82