Before the time of television, the internet, DVD's and the rise of American football, basketball, hockey, NASCAR, extreme sports, and the general vision of American culture, baseball was one of the few activities that almost every American knew something about. It was and still is something that people discuss and share with their neighbors, coworkers, and family members. According to The Early History of Baseball, “Americans began playing baseball in informal competitions in the early 1800s. By the 1860s, the sport was being described as America’s ‘National Pastime’ ” (Kingston, Early History of Baseball). Bernard Malamud did not know much about America’s favorite pastime when he began to write The Natural. The Bernard Malamud Biography explains how, “Malamud’s novel embodies an intellectual’s view of baseball as a symbolic representation of American life… [he also] uses a heroic style, full of romantic exaggeration, whimsical inventiveness, and magical fantasy” (Hershinow, 16). The Biography continues to say, “It [the novel] is sometimes described as a baseball story, but actually baseball is only the background from which Malamud draws his real subject: the plight of the mythic hero in the modern world” (Hershinow, 16). With this in mind, Roy Hobbs and his magical bat “Wonderboy” are often compared to the historical myths of King Arthur and his sword Excalibur.
To some, baseball is just a game, but within in every game, there is a hero. Whether they score the tying run or strike out the last batter, a hero is born. Heroes do not, however, have to be restricted within a sport, but can instead be the local police and firemen, town neighbors, parents, and even friends. To be a hero, especially in literature, ther...
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...two share the honor of having a mythical object to help them through their journey. In the story, “clearly, the game of baseball becomes a metaphor for life. It represents the moral world Roy enters when he joins the Knights. It is the over simplified, black and white world characteristic of medieval romance” (Hershinow, 23). The mythological stories are parallels to each other and can help to describe major themes within the novel. Roy Hobbs is truly a natural at his sport and he meets the standards of the old myths of King Arthur. “He was… a natural… there are all kinds of hitters, some are bucket foots, and some go for bad throws but none of them bother me as long as they naturally connect with anything that gets in their way” (Malamud, 78). Roy shows a great deal of love and is able to express his raw talent for the sport through his devotion for the game.
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