Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

Should Wizard Hit Mommy? Literary Elements


Short story

Setting and Context

Jack and Claire's home, suburbs of Boston, mid-twentieth century

Narrator and Point of View

Close-third person narration, Jack's point of view

Tone and Mood

Through the character of Jack, Updike develops a fatigued and bitter tone to the story, with moments of humor. The story evokes a mood of desperation and stagnancy.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Jack is the protagonist of the story. There is no clear antagonist, but rather antagonistic forces, like the unstoppable passage of time and the stagnancy he feels in his marriage.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is that Jack feels exhausted with his domestic life, and his bedtime story sessions, which once acted as a refuge from this life, have been encroached upon by the habits his daughter has learned from the adults around her.


The climax of the story occurs when Jack reveals that Mommy Skunk forces Wizard to return Roger Skunk's odor to him, and Jo insists that Wizard hit Mommy Skunk on the head with his wand.


Updike informs the reader that Claire is pregnant with their third child. He also begins the story by describing Jack's head as being "empty" of any new stories to tell. These details foreshadow an exhausting, repetitive future for Jack and Claire.




Updike uses spare, domestic imagery to render the home of Jack and Claire.



Jack constructs his bedtime stories with a clear parallelism to what he views as an "ideal" nuclear family with clearly defined gender roles.

Metonymy and Synecdoche


Throughout the story, animals are given human qualities or posed in positions that make them resemble human characters.