The Writings of John Updike

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The Writings of John Updike

John Updike's Rabbit books tell the story of a man whose life is in constant turmoil. Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom's downward spiral started the day his senior basketball season ended. Rabbit was a basketball jock; he knew nothing else. He married his high school sweetheart more out of convenience than love and worked in the same printing press as his father. Rabbit couldn't face the working world, couldn't face his parents, and couldn't face his wife and son. He was constantly caught somewhere in the middle ground between righteousness and sinful pleasure. Rabbit's mind was constantly wandering, searching for something he could hold on to, something that would remain constant through the thick and thin of life. He needed another basketball.

Rabbit's life is the perfect model for a case study on how not to live. Anything appealing that entered his mind, he did it. Rabbit cheated on his wife, ignored his mother, was unaffected when his wife left him, took up with an eighteen year old girl when he was well into his thirties and did not attempt to hide any of it from his twelve year old son, Nelson. Rather than getting tough when times were hard, Rabbit ran. He ran from a pregnant wife, Janice, from Nelson who was then twelve, from employment, from his parents, from everything. Rabbit practiced the opposite of perseverance. When life wasn't going well, Rabbit simply moved on to something else.

Rabbit matters because he was so wrong. Our thoughts often mimic Rabbit's actions. But Rabbit takes the heat for us. His twisted, perverse life shows us that the choices he made were the wrong ones. Not to imply that he was in any way godly, but like Jesus, Rabbit suffered for our sins. How many times do we find ourselves bored in life, wishing that we could just move on to something else, give up and start over? Each time we do, we can remember Rabbit. Rabbit reminds us that without work, life is not fulfilling. He shows us that you can't start over, that you can never leave your life behind.

Rabbit shows us that we have to live with our mistakes, that we can't just act like they never happened. Rabbit tries to run, but he can't. He reminds us that people don't just forget and move on.

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