LITERATURE (and REALITY?): Rabbit, Run – More on Character

(Note:  I’m supposed to be outside gardening while Jim is at the range but I made the mistake of taking a cup of coffee and this book out there with me and well, it’s not really a mistake because I just get tired and sore so I take a short break–like I never used to have to do before but when my Dad turned ninety we talked him into doing so–and rather than waste time I do some reading though it would likely be wiser to take the laptop out there [instead of coming inside like I just did now] and work on the Scratch project to get that damn thing done so I could move on to Alice beyond the tutorials which I’ve already started because they looked so damned cool, but in reading just a few paragraphs more of Rabbit, Run I came across a very interesting notion that I wanted to write about so that’s what’s below this Note and in fact, is relevant enough because it does deal with both literary analysis of character and the analyzing of folk–ourselves, truly–in reality.)

While his wife is still in the hospital with the new baby, Rabbit visits his mother-in-law:

Now Rabbit knows from school that Peggy Fosnacht, then Peggy Gring, wears sunglasses because she is freakishly, humiliatingly walleyed.  And Eccles has told him that her company was a great comfort to Janice during the trying period now past.  But he does not make either of these objections; he listens contentedly, pleased to be united with Mrs. Springer, the two of them against the world.  The cubes in the iced tea melt, making the beverage doubly bland; his mother-in-law’s talk laves his ears like the swirling mutter of a brook.  Lulled, he lets his lids lower and a smile creeps into his face; he sleeps badly at nights, alone, and drowses now on the grassy breadth of day, idly blissful, smug on the right side at last.  (p. 209)

Compromise for peace, for a place in society that is comfortable, unchallenged.  Freedom not worth the price.  Note the inclusion of the detail of the iced tea made bland by the melting ice cubes; the woman’s talk simile-ed to the mutter of a brook. Certainly the contrast of peace to adventure. 

There is a period in our lives when, after the rebelliousness of youth subsides, we learn to get along by going with the flow.  We keep our mouths shut unless the nature of an event is either far enough from our inner self to be undamaging such as political stands or world situations, or close enough to necessitate the risk.

And then we reach another point where, as Rabbit made his un-thought-out escape, we make a conscious decision to voice our own opinions and buck the tide.  The complacency that Rabbit here exhibits is being done in the name of peace for the immediate and long term future.  His mother-in-law, Mrs. Springer, is doing the same, but more for her daughter’s sake and the still with the idea of society’s tendency in gossip to judge her family just by Rabbit’s own behavior.  She must forgive, for appearance’s sake. 

Strange, how the very nature of fiction which is dishonesty can be so very honest.

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3 Responses to LITERATURE (and REALITY?): Rabbit, Run – More on Character

  1. Creechman says:

    I’ve heard about those Rabbit novels.

  2. susan says:

    Have you read any Updike? I really do like his writing style and I’m liking this, the first (I believe) of the Rabbit novels.

  3. creechman says:

    I don’t think I have read him. Just know of him, like so many other pouting authors upon dusty bookshelves, begging for attention.

    You’re back on my blogroll by the way.

    Don’t scare me like that again.

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