A terrific piece of film criticism that analyzes the film Breaking Away in the context of the fall of the “white working class.”
Indeed, Dave attempts to become a completely different person. He literally begins to identify as an Italian, or, rather, what he wants to believe an Italian is. Beneath the eccentricities (Dave becomes a sort of small-town Don Quixote), he reveals something deeply felt by all the characters in the film, the vulnerability of his working-class American identity, the dissolution of its promise to provide a stable and comfortable life, and the romanticizing of a mythical “good old days.”
This is perhaps the most representative scene in the film. I’ve never quite been able to decide if Dennis Quaid is being a whiny, self-pitying little bitch or a clear eyed realist. The way he sees his life slipping away without ever meaning anything is dead on. That’s probably what happened.