The two polar aspects of the contemporary American character collided that day in Dallas—a consideration which, in going beyond politics, goes far to explain why it had to be Kennedy. For John Kennedy was everything that Lee Oswald was not. He existed directly in the vivid center of reality, he was potent in every way, his life and personality were one continuous action and interaction; he was neither dualistic, separated, nor helpless; he had never been prevented from experiencing himself as alive and consequential. Oswald struck back at everything he was not, but in a sense he was performing a Kennedy-like act (as far as he could imagine one), and was attempting to become the sort of man he killed by the very act of killing. And so all that was starved, thwarted and hopeless in our national life took its pathetic and sullen revenge on all that was most vital, potent, and attractive.