Essay on Updike's Rabbit

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Updike's Rabbit

As the gap between homo sapiens and their uncivilized ancestors widens, reproduction looses its value as the most important means to continuing the species. For humanity to progress in an increasingly modern and complex world, men must be required to think of themselves in broader terms. Rabbit Angstrom cannot understand that he could find meaning in life if he devalued the importance he places on sex. He is unable to accept the realities of life in twentieth century America and the role he must accept. He runs from his responsibilities, despite the harm this causes many people. By not accepting the changing nature of life for what it is, Rabbit’s life is devoid of meaning. The message John Updike hopes his reader
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Rabbit is representative of the harmful way many men behave. The fact that men do not have to carry the child enabled Rabbit to distance himself from the possible outcome of sex. Instead of being satisfied to love one woman, he acts upon outdated sexual urges which make him feel the need to spread his genes. In truth, Rabbit was “monstrously selfish, (didn’t) care about right or wrong, (and) worshiped nothing except his own worst instincts (134). The animalistic behavior Rabbit demonstrates towards women, impedes social advancement because it enables men to distance themselves from sex and devalue the role of family. Thus Updike uses Rabbit as a foil to show the reader how men should not behave.

Updike creates a character in Rabbit which has the ability to be a productive member of society, but tragically cannot put others on the same level as himself. He yearns for his childhood days, when he was free of responsibility, and is jealous of children, even his son, for this reason (21). He is a former high school basketball star who is well known throughout the county, and is told that he could inspire faith in people (144). However, people do not look up to him because he does not try to use his position to help other. He “doesn’t like to manage things, he likes to let things happen of themselves” (306). At his daughter’s funeral, Rabbit said “You all keep acting as if I (killed my daughter), I
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