Updike's Rabbit

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Updike's Rabbit

As the gap between homo sapiens and their uncivilized ancestors widens, reproduction looses its value as the most important means to continuing the species. For humanity to progress in an increasingly modern and complex world, men must be required to think of themselves in broader terms. Rabbit Angstrom cannot understand that he could find meaning in life if he devalued the importance he places on sex. He is unable to accept the realities of life in twentieth century America and the role he must accept. He runs from his responsibilities, despite the harm this causes many people. By not accepting the changing nature of life for what it is, Rabbit’s life is devoid of meaning. The message John Updike hopes his reader will receive from Rabbit, Run, is that society would move in a positive direction if men like Rabbit accept the responsibility they have towards others.

Updike understands that society is structured in such a way. Men are not required to marry or have children, but must be good husbands and fathers if they do, for humanity to progress as a whole. Rabbit “dislikes manipulation” and views these inherent facts about life as societal constrictions which deny him his freedom (17). His position as a privileged male allows him to feel “the world owes him what he wants” and thus is not compelled to provide for his family (153). For Rabbit, life feels like a “series of grotesque poses assumed to no purpose”(198). He justify’s 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...

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...ompassion for others.

Updike intended Rabbit, Run to get people, especially men who live like Rabbit, to understand life on a deeper level. Men have been dominant for so long that it is hard for many of them to understand the duty they have to help humanity. Rabbit has promise but can find no reason, even the death of his daughter, to change. God “gives to each of us special talents, So: know thyself, learn to understand your talents and then work to develop them, that’s the way to be happy” (10). Thus Rabbit is one of the greatest obstacles which stands in the way of social advancement, because he does not realize the contribution he could make. His selfishness blinds him to the harm does cause, or the good he could cause, if he came to a deeper understanding of himself, and men’s role in society. “Isn’t that the whole secret, to come to grips” with life (53).
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