There is perhaps no greater symbol, throughout all history, of what it means to be a domestic being than the family home, and the strongest tool and symbol of that home is the roofline. The roof is the most fundamental act of architecture: one of shelter, of protection, and even of status.
The cultural symbolism of the home in America since the nineteenth century has moved past “shelter” or even a respite from work, as it was romanticized by American artists such as the Hudson School painters, for instance. It has instead morphed into a status of wealth; the single-family home is more so a commodity for those privileged enough to own one than it is a pragmatic shelter. There are, of course, aesthetic decisions, but they become secondary applique to the overall symbol of owning a freestanding house. As a commodity, the house has become a product of proformas and developer-driven formulas; the floor plan reigns, with its dining room, office, vaulted bathroom ceilings and loggias. The roofline is a resultant.
If the house itself is a symbol, the iconic aspect of any given house is its roof. Throughout history, the wealthy have had larger homes which have needed more rooflines to span the desired spaces; a more complex roof has usually been a sign of money. But with the rise of the American suburb, the middle class, and the marketable floorplan, the rooflines became exponentially complicated and arguably symbolic of the shortcomings of the single-family, suburban McMansion.