This represents another installment of Updike's "hero," Harry Angstrom as he makes his way through life. Harry Angstrom, even though he is now forty-six, still is fixated by his memories of success when he was a basketball player. This glory is something that clings to him still, in spite of his expanding waistline, as women seem drawn to him. What is most significant about him in this novel is the contentment that he has finally gained. However, this is not to say that he does not experience problems, and the novel develops the conflict betwee him and his son, Nelson, who has now entered adulthood. Harry's problem is that he oscillates between feeling sorry for his son and feeling jealous of him.
The story focuses on the state of contentment and how ironically this is shown to be not enough for Harry, as he constantly yearns and lusts after what he cannot have. In spite of his material comfort and his wife's new-found sexual energy, he seems incapable of happiness and is shown to hanker after various women and things that he cannot have. The novel ends with Harry effectively having to pay to support his son outside of his house, which he is happy to do because it removes him from his presence.