Douglas Coupland, Generation X

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Generation X is a controversial and promising novel by Douglas Coupland about the future prospects. Modern society is technological savvy and bureaucratic one. The American society approved the novel at once, signifying its readiness to blur borders and shift accents. It means that the American society is open for changes and innovations, unlike the Canadian society, which rejected the book at first. Generation X is positioned by Coupland as a distracted youth, free of moral stereotypes and prejudices. Moreover, Coupland claims that the Canadian dimension of literature does not present a blur of regional and national identity. This claim of the author plays an important role in the modern globalized, internationally blurred context. Moreover, it is argued that Generation X is a future prospect of the future social development of the contemporaries in technologically savvy world, freed from social bounds.

Xers and their essence

A tendency of escape from the strict bonds of the society is one of the most crucial issues of the novel. In other words, Coupland appeals for freedom and independence of the contemporaries. There is nothing, but individuals, who are technologically savvy and rigorous. A contemporary society is a society of consumers and current communication implies nothing more than commentaries to the actions of other individuals. There is no need for the main characters of the novel to live in compliance with worn-out moral norms and ways of behavior. The contemporaries are ready to call for their earlier lives. There is a massive appeal of the author for the modern society to discard stereotypical behaviors and escape from monotonous lives. On the other hand, there is no evident possibility to escape from a socially stable reality: “…the realization that the smiles that they wear in their daily lives are the same as the smiles worn by people who have been good-naturedly fleeced, but fleeced nonetheless and who are unable because of social convention to show their anger” (Coupland 1991, p. 7).

It is essential and interesting to notice, that such kind of unusual arguments and a new air for the development of the Canadian minds was not readily accepted by the latter. The author appeals for the removal of consumerist stereotypes or any other standardized types of behavior. It is not appropriate and even ill-mannered for the contemporaries to think and to act in accordance with irrelevant stereotypes. Coupland underlines a widening gap of generations’ split and there is a need to bridge the gap. The only way to do it is to become “naked” individuals with clear minds and create the modern reality, which is between reality and cyber space. Unlike earlier years, modern social templates of behavior are not linear. It is evident, that the modern society is being developed in different directions, blurring the borders and static limits of diversified development. Therefore, one of the greatest dilemmas, parent-children relationships is described by Coupland in an unusual manner. Modern youth is confident and they do not want their parents to be confident instead of them. Parental “crowbars” cannot be applied to reshape the lives of their children, as it used to be many centuries ago.  Divided sections of text underlines dualistic development of the modern life: the modernity is being developed in accordance with the laws of computer technologies: a bipolar system of the modern society development reiterates binary system of computer technologies.

Nevertheless, it is appropriate to have emotional features of human beings and the main characters Andy, Dag, and Claire have remained sensual humane characters and not computerized machines. There is enough courage among these characters and they are able to abandon a well-structured world, designed by the worn-out social system for them for life, which has no structure, templates and purpose. The modern culture is being developed in high gear and this trio is thinking about their future. Palm Springs highlights a reality, where the time has stopped. These guys are against history. They do not want to be used and erased by the history of the middle class; it is more preferable for them to erase such history. Existence in a vacuum of a personal creation- an interesting vision of human future is not it? Coupland uses a majority of narrators and blurs different themes. This strategy underlines the importance of each character of the novel and refers to narcissistic essence of the modern society.


The real essence of a human life of the contemporary is to create an individual story and get through it. The author shows the necessity to avoid pre-plotted lives templates and exist in accordance with them. Generation X is a new generation, free from corporate agenda and social bounds. There is no nuclear family imperative; there are no mechanisms and triggers for a plotted existence.

There is no need to have status quo for the Xers. Therefore, the coming generation cannot coexist with the previous generation. There is no need to cooperate and correlate children’s action with the actions of their parents. It is better to avoid hostility, accept diversified manner of thinking and various models of social development. A strong technological background is a favorable platform for further development. Why not to discard centennial social and moral stereotypes and behavioral templates and create a fruitful soil for the development of future generations? This is a rhetorical question and the author evokes conscious of the contemporaries, highlighting the necessity for advancement, challenge and change.

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  1. Coupland, Douglas. Generation X. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.
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