The Rabbit Angstrom Novels Critical Evaluation - Essay

John Updike

Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

A major contemporary American author, John Updike was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the American Book Award for Rabbit Is Rich. Updike graduated from Harvard in 1954 and worked on the staff of The New Yorker. He published poems, short stories, essays, and book reviews in addition to several novels. The domestic life of the American middle class provides the major subject for those novels, as his characters struggle to find meaning and a sense of values in a changing world. Rabbit, Run, his second novel, begins the series of four novels that traces the life of Harry Angstrom, the former basketball star who searches for meaning beyond the confines of an unhappy marriage and the ordinary struggles of daily life. Each of the novels chronicles the history and culture of the decade before it was published, as it shows Rabbit’s journey through middle age, prosperity, retirement, and death.

The image of the basketball court provides the frame for the series. In the first novel, the neighborhood basketball game reminds Rabbit of how much he misses the excitement of his high school years. This longing for something more in his life drives him to flee from his responsibilities. A similar game on a basketball court in Florida is the scene of the massive heart attack that leads to Rabbit’s death.

The rabbit image is central to the novel. On the first page, Updike describes Harry’s rabbitlike appearance with his broad white face, pale blue eyes, and “nervous flutter under his brief nose.” Nervous blinks and quick...

(The entire section is 658 words.)