Analysis Of Updike Essay, Research Paper
John Updike s Rabbit Run, and A & P are two works that deals with the same unifying themes. They are two separate, independent works, and yet they both share the same centralizing main points. Updike s unique ability to contort and disassemble the human mind is present in both novels. He is able to depict human nature as a wild lust for passion; in both stories he presents two main characters that suffer the same dilemma. They are unable hold back their sexual temptations, thus causing their lives to go into a chaotic state. Because of this, they leave their old lives to seek out refuge. Both characters are cowards; they both show signs of anxiety towards the society/community in which they live in. They both have a mentality that women are inferior to men. And in both works Updikes uses a specific naming designation to name his characters; each name in both works have a certain meaning to themselves.
One character, Harry Angstrom, who is referred, as Rabbit in Updike s Rabbit run is a coward. Udpike names him as Rabbit because like a rabbit he is terrified at everything he sees, he runs away from his problems instead of facing it like a normal man would. Rabbit is unable to realize his role in his community, and his household. He is not satisfied with his dead-end job, his present wife, and his pre-born child. And thus Rabbit runs away from his problems, he runs in the arms of another women. Although he does not love this woman, he prefers her to his current life because she gives him a reason for running away.
Throughout the novel Rabbit demotes women to a class lower then he is. He looks at them as if they were a piece of meat, a sex object. Rabbit refers to their physical attributes rather then their inner qualities. He treats them as if there are objects; for instance he easily left his wife for another women, then left her just as easily. They are objects for him to play around with; he has no feelings for them. Rabbit blindly follows his natural urges and often acts without thinking. Ruth, the women he ran away with explains how Rabbit follows these urges in stating, “That was the thing about him, and he just lived in his skin and didn’t give a thought to the consequences of anything” (128).
Instead of being satisfied to love one woman, he acts upon outdated sexual urges, which make him feel the need to spread his genes. In truth, Rabbit was monstrously selfish, he doesn t care about right or wrong, and worshiped nothing except his own worst instincts (134). The animalistic behavior Rabbit demonstrates towards women causes his life to go into a chaotic dismal.
Updike creates a character in Rabbit, which has the ability to be a productive member of society, but tragically cannot put others on the same level as him. He yearns for his childhood days, when he was free of responsibility, and is jealous of children, even his son, for this reason (21). He is a former high school basketball star who is well known throughout the county, and is told that he could inspire faith in people (144). However, people do not look up to him because he does not try to use his position to help other. He doesn t like to manage things, he likes to let things happen of themselves (306). At his daughter s funeral, Rabbit said, You all keep acting as if I killed my daughter, I wasn t anywhere near, she s the one (296). Updike s ultimate denial of Rabbit s value to society was that he was more concerned with placing blame than in having compassion for others.
For instance, he justifies leaving his family because it is simply what he wants to do, and shows no remorse that this will cause damage to his family. If you have the guts to be yourself other people will pay the price (149). As the plot continues it becomes increasingly apparent that Rabbit will never accept responsibility. However life will not be satisfying for him because he cannot accept the advice: be a good husband, a good father, love what you have (281).
Critic, Natalie Stobbe that Rabbit is on a quest for something that he does not know. This can be backed up by Rabbit s incoherent nature with women, and his lack of responsibility. Rabbit is running away from his life but he has no apparent reason to leave. It can be concluded that he is want to seek refuge from his life. But in actuality there is no concrete reason why he has to runaway.
These analyses can also to correlate with the character Sammy in Updike s A &P. Updike names him Sammy to emphasize Sammy s immaturity, the name Sammy is a nickname for a young person, thus by naming him Sammy Updike imposes on us Sammy s immature nature.
Sammy is a man who like Rabbit is at the end of his ropes. He is stuck at a dead-end job, although he does not have a wife to support, he does have his parents to take care of. Sammy is a coward just as Rabbit because he uses women, as a scapegoat for him leaving is current situation.
One day, when three girls walk into the store, Sammy is strongly attracted to one of them. He thinks of the one he likes as “Queenie.” Later, when the manager warns the girls not to return to the store if they are wearing swimsuits, Sammy tries to come to their rescue by standing up to his boss and he even quits his job for them. In other words, Sammy is, or wants to be, their knight in shining armor; he wants to rescue his Queen, Queenie .
But however like Rabbit, the main reason why Sammy left his job was because he wasn t content there; he used those girls as an excuse to escape his own reality. He wants to run away from his dull, dead end job, his mundane life and possibly his parents who he has to support.
A&P is short story pervaded with the consciousness of the author. Sammy s actions reflect the mentality of the author, John Updike. The connection between the sexual remarks, the chain grocery store, and a rebel without a cause, paints a direct portrait of Updike s notion towards these issues.
Sexual comments and male chauvinism is presented throughout this story. The story begins with Sammy commenting on three girls walking into the store. His first notion was to mention their apparel, In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. He later refers to one of the girl s rear ends as a sweet board soft-looking can with those two crescents of whites under it. (421) Sammy s sexual desires are presented in a blunt way. In various occasions throughout the story, sexual derogatory comments are made about the three girls. Updike uses these comments to show readers how chauvinistic males can be.
Updike uses analogies to draw a parallel between the chain grocery store and Sammy s life; Sammy s life is plain. The grocery store is described as being an insipid place, where someone could set off a dynamite in an A&P and the people would by large keep on reaching and checking oatmeal off their list The dullness of the store correlates to Sammy s life. He is 19 years old and his notions have shown that he has been working in A&P for a long time; he is an expert at the cash register and knows the customers. Worst of all, Sammy works in a chain store, the redundancy of chain stores are a common ground for dullness. Like the store Sammy is dull too; he has no joy doing what he does. He refers to the customers as sheep pushing their carts down the aisles. The customers are called sheeps, because the store is like a barn. A barn has entrapping characteristics because it has fences to keep the animals in. Therefore if he thinks the customers are animals trapped in a barn, Sammy must also think he is locked up in the barn. This type of mentality leads Sammy to quit his job.
His mentality however does not give him enough apparent reason to leave. It is ludicrous to quit one s job just to defend three strangers from verbal abuse. Sammy s action is uncalled for and proves that he too like Rabbit is looking for something that they he does not know. Critic, Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta states that Sammy quits his job as a rebellion. This is statement can be argued because there is nothing for Sammy to rebel from. Although his life is dull, and his job is dull, there is no sign of dissatisfaction from his part. The reason he quit is to seek refuge, however this refuge is unknown to us.
In conclusion the two works are very much similar, the two anit-heros are both scared cowards who runs away from their lives. There is no main reason who they run, they feel that the indefinite of not knowing is better then the solitude of knowing.