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Rabbit, Run
(John Updike)

John Updike wrote a series of books called the Rabbit novels about an average American man named Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom. In the first novel Rabbit, Run, Rabbit is in his twenties, holds a steady job, and is married with a young son. He does not seem content with his role as a family man and is constantly thinking about the past when he was the town?s high school basketball star. One day, like any other day, Rabbit goes to pick up his son at his mother?s house, but before going in he watches his son interact with his sister and mother. Rabbit watches how happy his son is while being fed by his grandma and something in side of him clicks. The home with his wife, Janice, is not nearly as happy. At that moment he decides he must find that sort of happiness again and that it can?t be found within his marriage or situation, so without telling anyone or worrying about his responsibilities he leaves his small town of Mt. Judge and heads south. For a long time Rabbit had felt trapped by his wife, his dead end job as a demonstrator for a kitchen gadget, and his responsibilities as a father. With his new found freedom, his main concern becomes what he will do and how he will get there. By the next morning he realizes that he need to live up to his responsibilities and returns home. Through out the book he does similar, irresponsible things to escape from his dull life for a little while. Nothing really ever changes in his life, he really doesn?t make an effort to change it. When things become difficult he flees for a while and then returns to life where nothing has changed. This novel was published in 1960 and really addresses traditional American societal norms of the fifties, including the idea that to be successful a person should get married, have children, hold a steady job and live in the suburbs. The Rabbit character refuses to play by these conventional rules. The result is that readers are disgusted with and at the same time feel sympathetic toward Rabbit. On one hand he completely shirks his responsibilities to his wife and child, and never really owns up to the problems he has caused. But the reader can not help but like him or at least feel sorry for him being stuck in a life he does not want. Most people can relate to feeling stuck in value systems, whether its societal, familial, religious, or cultural, that they really don?t agree with. Through out Rabbit?s life he is always running away from social constraints and his mediocre life to try to find something better. The reality is that he has no where to go. The fact that he continues to try to reach something better, though misguided, helps to endear him to readers.

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