Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

Should Wizard Hit Mommy? Study Guide

"Should Wizard Hit Mommy?" is a short story by American writer John Updike, about a man telling his daughter a bedtime story, and in the process revealing the dynamics of their own family life. First published in The New Yorker on June 13th, 1959, when Updike was twenty-seven years old, the story was later included in Updike's collection, Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories in 1962. Updike was a regular contributor to The New Yorker for over half a century. Like most of Updike's work, "Should Wizard Hit Mommy?" concerns white, middle-class, suburban America. Readers often locate Updike in his stories, which were often inspired by his own life and experiences as part of that American middle class—though his social position quickly climbed as he, in his early thirties, began to be considered one of the foremost living literary voices.

"Should Wizard Hit Mommy?" could very well be one of the stories inspired by Updike's own domestic life. For example, the father in the story's name is "Jack," a common nickname for John, and Jo could very well be one of the many characters in Updike's writing inspired by his eldest daughter, Elizabeth. On the surface, the story is simply about a man improvising a bedtime story for his daughter. The story of the father, daughter, and mother acts as a frame for the story Jack tells Jo about Roger Skunk. But beneath the surface is a story about domestic exhaustion, male ego, and a child beginning to recognize the half-truths and fantasies, like the tooth fairy, that her parents have been telling her for her first four years of life.