I think I meant it more as an indictment of American life in the 1950s. Because during the Fifties there was a general lust for conformity all over this country, by no means only in the suburbs — a kind of blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price, as exemplified politically in the Eisenhower administration and the Joe McCarthy witchhunts. Anyway, a great many Americans were deeply disturbed by all that — felt it to be an outright betrayal of our best and bravest revolutionary spirit — and that was the spirit I tried to embody in the character of April Wheeler. I meant the title to suggest that the revolutionary road of 1776 had come to something very much like a dead end in the Fifties
The film is taken from a novel by Richard Yates. Here's what Yates (now deceased) said about his novel:
And this is a way of saying novel bound itself to one of the great cliches of the period. If this was a desperate period, it is partly because intellectuals, academics and novelists had closed ranks and declared middle class life a kind of wasteland.
It's hard to calculate the damage done by this cliche. To be sure, the 50s had a certain sturdy confidence, momentum, brio. And by this reckoning, the "conformity" argument may be seen merely as a useful corrective and a minority opinion. By the fact of the matter is that this treatment of American culture helped create self loathing and confusion.
The quote above is from the Wikipedia website for Richard Yates here.
Allsop, Kenneth. 1964. The Angry Decade: a survey of the cultural revolt of the nineteen-fifties. London: Peter Owen Limited.
Carey, John. 1992. The Intellectuals and the Masses: pride and prejudice among the literary intelligentsia, 1880-1939. London: Faber and Faber.
Dickstein, Morris. 1999. Leopards in the Temple: The transformation of American Fiction, 1945-1970. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Kammen, Michael G. 1999. American culture, American tastes: Social change and the 20th century. New York: Knopf.
LeMahieu, D. L. 1988. A culture for democracy : mass communication and the cultivated mind in Britain between the wars. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Riesman, David. 1964. The Suburban Dislocation. Abundance for what? And other essays. David Riesman, 226-57. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday.
Susman, Warren I. 1984. Introduction: Toward a history of the culture of abundance: some hypotheses. Culture as History: The transformation of American society in the Twentieth century. Warren I. Susman, xix-xxx. New York: Pantheon Books.
Whyte, William H. Jr. 1956. The Organization Man. New York: Simon and Schuster.
It's worth noting that this is director Sam Mendes' second go at the theme. He is responsible for American Beauty.