Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Natural is the account of a talented athlete who wants to play major league baseball more than anything in the world. The story opens when Roy Hobbs is about nineteen and traveling from somewhere out west to Chicago for a tryout with the Cubs. After winning a pitching contest against a major leaguer named Whammer Whambold, he attracts the attention of a crazed young woman, Harriet Bird. She follows him to a hotel in the city and, after inviting him to her room, shoots him as he enters. The material in this section is entitled “Pre-game.”

The second and much longer part of the novel is entitled “Batter-Up!” Roy reappears at the age of thirty-four after signing to play for the New York Knights. The intervening years are a mystery. Well past his prime to start major league baseball, he surprises the manager, Pop Fisher, and the rest of the team with his skill. He is so good that he begins to give them hope of winning a pennant. Roy’s big chance for a starting position as well as for love begins when a player named Bump Bailey dies from an injury in the outfield, thereby vacating that position and leaving behind his beautiful girlfriend, Memo Paris, who is also Pop Fisher’s niece.

Roy’s relationship with Memo begins to interfere with his ability to play ball, so much so that Roy sees everything that he has a dreamed about for so long threaten to disappear. He falls into a midseason slump and becomes the object of fans’...

(The entire section is 558 words.)