Rabbit, Run Suggested Essays

Suggested Essay Questions

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  1. 1

    Updike seems to position faith as both a positive and negative force for his characters. Which side wins out? Is the search for God a viable one, and if so, does the church aid or corrupt it?

  2. 2

    Discuss Updike's depiction of sex in the novel, and the ways in which he portrays the experience as simultaneously beautiful and ugly, noble and base.

  3. 3

    Trace the evolution of Jack Eccles as a character. In what ways does his crisis of faith mirror Rabbit's?

  4. 4

    Why "Rabbit"? Time and again, Updike uses imagery relating to animals; in what ways does Harry Angstrom's nickname accentuate his presentation as a character?

  5. 5

    Basketball provides Rabbit with some of his fondest memories, and yet we only see him play the game once, at the novel's beginning. Consider the implications of the absence of the activity that was once so important to Rabbit. Is the game sublimated in any way in Rabbit's daily existence?

  6. 6

    Analyze the passage in which Updike switches to Ruth's perspective for the first time. Consider poetic forms, the influence of Joyce, Woolf, and Nabokov, and the transience of memory.

  7. 7

    Death is a major theme of Updike's novel - one that preoccupies Rabbit long before his daughter drowns. Without committing the error of "explaining" away Rabbit's actions, consider why he obsesses over mortality and what the significance of this obsession may be.

  8. 8

    Is Rabbit more spectator than participant? Analyze the use of the gaze in Updike's novel - specifically Rabbit's gaze, and Updike's positing of his protagonist as supreme voyeur.

  9. 9

    In his attention to the minutiae of daily life, Updike channels Woolf, Joyce, and other literary precedents. Consider the implications of this attention for both narrative and theme.

  10. 10

    Is there hope for Rabbit? What, when writing about Rabbit, Run, might we even mean by "hope"?

  11. 11

    Discuss the presentation of women in the novel. Updike has been criticized for treating women as objects in his books, particularly Rabbit, Run, and for privileging his male characters to the point of misogyny. How valid do you think this argument is?