LITERATURE: Rabbit, Run – Psychological Realism

I’m not sure that I quite understand the definition of psychological realism–in many places it appears to have more to do with the interaction of the reader rather than characterization–yet it’s the first thing I thought of in Updike’s depth of portrayal of Rabbit.

His day had been bothered by God: Ruth mocking, Eccles blinking–why did they teach you such things if no one believed them?  It seems plain, standing here, that if there is this floor there is a ceiling, that the true space in which we live is upward space.  Someone is dying.  In this great stretch of brick someone is dying.  The thought comes from nowhere: simple percentages.  Someone in some house along these streets, if not this minute then the next, dies; and in that suddenly stone chest the heart of this flat prostrate rose seems to him to be.  He moves his eyes to find the spot; perhaps he can see the cancer-blackened soul of an old man mount through the blue like a monkey on a string.  He strains his ears to hear the pang of release as this ruddy illusion at his feet gives up this reality.  Silence blasts him.  Chains of cars creep without noise; a dot comes out of a door.  What is he doing here, standing on air?  Why isn’t he home?  He becomes frightened and begs Ruth, "Put your arm around me."  (p. 108)

Rabbit is obviously going through some mental gymnastics.  His decision to leave his pregnant wife and two year-old son was spur-of-the moment; the scene the original "I’m going out for a pack of cigarettes" that indicates not the immediate, but the built-upon.

Yet as with Kerouac’s hero in On The Road, he comes back to the area, depends on friends, hovers near, looking at his life positioned just around the corner from it, or peeking in through a kitchen window.

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