Why does Harriet Bird shoot Roy Hobbs? This is the core question in the book, The Natural, by Bernard Malamud. Harriet Bird, the woman who shoots Roy Hobbs, covers less than one tenth of the book. However, she is definitely a major character since she affects Roy’s entire life. Malamud depicts Harriet as a special and mystical woman. Such portrayal creates tension throughout the novel. The suspense is formed as the author describe the costume and behaviors of Harriet Bird. The suspense draws the attention of the readers while making the novel novel more intriguing and fascinating.
The name, “Harriet Bird” symbolizes suspense in the story. The author chooses to call Harriet as “her” rather than her real name as she first appears in the novel. Instead, he describes every minute details of the anonymous character . Before revealing her name, the author highlights the interaction between Harriet and Roy. The name does not appear until later part of the book when Eddie calls her, "Miss Harriet Bird, Eddie had gratuitously told him, making a black fluttering of wings"(14). Such way to introduce a character raises the curiosity of the readers. Birds play a vital role in the story. The word "bird" appear many times in the book. Bird is not only the name Harriet but also the name of Roy 's mother. This may make us misunderstand that Harriet is a substitute of Roy 's mother and should be nice to Roy. However, the reality is totally opposite. "[Harriet] pulled the trigger (thrum of bull fiddle). The bullet cut a silver line across the water"(33). This incident happen too suddenly and subverting the image of Harriet. Moreover, Malamud seems to treat "Bird" as a sign of evil and unlucky. Roy describes th...
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...e losses in several games. She even stands up during the baseball game to support Roy. Harriet uses a radical way to eliminate Roy. Yet, Iris uses a tolerant attitude and dedicate herself to influence Roy. Comparing Harriet with Iris, we can see the effects of Harriet towards Roy clearly.
In a nutshell, Harriet Bird is a mysterious woman in the whole novel. Malamud renders the feeling of mystery through her clothing, habit and even name. These effectively build a mystical image of Harriet into the readers ' mind. The characteristics of Harriet makes the whole novel suspense and intriguing. Being a tool of irony also attracts the readers to continue the book. By comparing the two main characters Iris and Harriet, we can see that the impacts of Harriet towards Roy become clear and outstanding. Harriet brings "death" to Roy but also causes him to reborn later on.
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