The Maturation of Oedipa

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John Updike’s Rabbit, Run utilizes support characters to develop the novel and give insight into the thoughts and ways of the 1960s. All of the supporting characters in Rabbit, Run are attracted to Rabbit for different reasons yet none so deep as Jack Eccles. Jack explains this relationship with Rabbit to his wife Lucy by stating he is only acting as any neighborhood minister should, but what is seen is more of an obsession with Rabbit. Every other supporting character has a reasonable connection to Rabbit: Janice because they are married, Ruth “’cause you haven’t given up” (Updike, 80), and Tothero as his former basketball coach but Jack’s just seems a little off. Fritz Kruppenbach describes Jack’s actions most accurately when he states “do you think this is your job, to meddle in these people's lives?” (Updike, 146). The feeling of containment has surrounded Jack yet he is unable to escape. His marriage has gone south, he works a job he didn’t choose, and his faith is not as strong as a minister’s should be. The reader is left to ponder whether or not Jack Eccles is attempting to live vicariously through Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom and if so, why and what are the consequences? Among several valid conclusions, the most likely are that Jack Eccles is unable to escape his fidelity to Lucy due to the constraints of being a minister in the 1960s and that he desires to have the flippant lifestyle Rabbit has chosen. A strong comparison can be drawn between Jack Eccles and Rabbit’s relationships with their respective wives. Both are unsatisfied, the difference being how they choose to deal with their circumstances. While Rabbit runs away from his problem, Jack feels he must stay. This belief stems from his idea that “marriage is a sacramen... ... middle of paper ... ... would not have drunkenly drowned her daughter. The death is an unfortunate event on several fronts; the life of an innocent child was lost for naught and Rabbit’s blame of Janice over the death causes him to runaway for good. Jack’s actions throughout the novel perpetuate and erode what was left of the relationship between Rabbit and Janice culminating in a complete termination. In Jack Eccles disillusioned view, he is helping Rabbit to grow from "a little tree to become a big tree" with respect to his spirituality and maturity (Updike, 93). This metaphor allows Jack to hide behind his façade of acting as a minister when in reality he is attempting to have Rabbit’s life play out in the manner he desires of his own. Due to Jack’s selfish desire to live vicariously through Rabbit, Rabbit is unable get the necessary help needed to save his relationship with Janice.

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