It is believed that Americans live by certain values. Writer L. Robert Kohls describe these values in his list "The values Americans live by."
The main idea was to help us understand how most Americans live and how they function as a society.
However, in the song “The River” by Bruce Springsteen, we can see how these values are challenged, and how it affects the life of the protagonist.
The song states, “I come from down in the valley … they bring you up to do like your daddy done.”
One can understand by this that he comes from a small town, most likely a working-class town since poor communities are often referred to as “down in the valley.”
Since they live in a working-class town, they expect the protagonist to keep doing what his father does and leave it all to fate, which goes against the values presented in the list.
In other words, society does not expect him to do anything significant with his life. His situation makes It therefore hard to change his environment.