Essay on The Struggle for Acceptance in The Cider House Rules

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The Struggle for Acceptance in The Cider House Rules

In The Cider House Rules, John Irving brings the orphan Homer Wells to vivid life in a rather unusual way. Homer’s life and existence are part of a large symbolic link to the actual book itself. Homer’s life as an orphan struggling for acceptance and to “Be of Use” is shadowed by The Cider House Rules struggle for acceptance in the mass literary market and its need to purvey its views on abortion.

After writing his first few books, Irving was left disappointed that although the literary critics embraced them, for the general masses his books fell on deaf ears. (Hill 250) Unfortunately it is the general case that the masses and the elite are not in
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Rather than write a pamphlet destined for the racks of the local obstetrician’s office, he writes a something much more marketable. He attempts to write the “responsible soap opera”, a form of fiction that is arguably most sought after and hardest to attain. (Hill 251) Irving uses his typical sledgehammer technique of pounding home his message, while wrapping it in a beautiful story. The two are not fully integrated: His pro-legalized-abortion stance could survive independent of Homer and his life, and Homer did not need to replace Larch at the orphanage. However, without the assistance of the other thread in the book, each side does seem rather pale. Unless the abortion issue directly affected ones self, there is no reason to go out and find information on it. As Irving recognized the synergistic value, it snowballed into what only Irving himself can adequately describe: “I honestly believe that this book is different from anything I’ve ever written. It is a book with a polemic.”

Unfortunately, not all of The Cider House Rules is responsible. At times it waxes dramatic, at others, purely disgusting. I fear that some of Irving’s audience was lost when Larch’s first “love” came in with a uterus “with the composition and texture of Muenster Cheese,” or the image of the failed

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