Phil’s ambition may be driven by his need to escape the working class life laid before him. It also suggests a desire to defy conformity and pave his own path - reflecting the freedom that youth culture seemed to promise at the time.
Phil rebels against authority. Within the opening few minutes of the play Phil has arrived late, lied to his boss (Mr. Curry) and responded to direct orders from his superior with
Chirpy this morning, eh?, suggesting a complete lack of respect for authority.
Mr. Curry despairs at Phil’s lack of work ethic, discipline and standards in the slab room;
It’s more like a rest home for retired beatniks than a slab room.
Despite Curry’s efforts, Phil remains consistently disrespectful and unresponsive towards him, a reflection of Phil’s unwillingness to conform.
While refusing to follow a path that is not his choice helps the audience root for Phil, his rebellious nature leads to a disregard, even aggression against other people. He is quick to inform Jack that
I'm not other people before telling him to go:
...away back to your desk and fester.