LITERATURE: Rabbit, Run – Writing Style

Um.  Don’t think I’ve ever read Updike before and I’m finding him quite likeable in his language use and style.

The frame houses climb the hill like a single staircase.  The space of six feet or so that each double house rises above its neighbor contains two wan windows, wide-spaced like the eyes of an animal, and is covered with composition shingling varying in color from bruise to dung.  The fronts are scabby clapboards, once white.  There are a dozen three-story homes, and each has two doors.  The seventh door is his.  The wood steps up to it are worn; under them there is a cubbyhole of dirt where a lost toy molders.  A plastic clown.  He’s seen it there all winter but he always thought some kid would be coming back for it.  (p. 12)

The similes used are amazingly precise: the houses like a staircase, the windows like the eyes of an animal.  The description of color, "from bruise to dung," goes along with the shabbiness Updike paints the neighborhood.  Worn steps, a cubbyhole of dirt, a lost toy–the incongruity of a plastic clown.  This scene has been decaying for years prior to Rabbit living here, yet he continues the neglect by noticing but not touching the toy.  He’s also one of many; the seventh door amid twenty-four.  No one, it would seem, has it better or worse than their neighbors.  All are ensconced here in a life of gradual decay.

Tells us an awful lot about Rabbit, and the way his story may unfold if we leave him to live it.

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