Updike concludes the story by making a metaphor of Jack and Claire's living room, likening it to a cage in which they are both trapped. They are trapped together, but neither of them will reach out to the other, because they both feel the other is partially to blame for their imprisonment. The metaphor cannot technically be qualified as a simile because Updike dispenses with the conjunctions "like" or "as" and simply labels the living room a cage with no qualifications. Not being a simile arguably strengthens the metaphor because there is less of a syntactical distance between the living room and the image of a cage.
Jack's Empty Head (Metaphor)
Updike begins the story by describing Jack's ritual of telling Jo a story before her bedtime or nap time. The ritual is two years old now, and Jo is four. Jack has been telling Jo very similar stories for two years, and Updike describes Jack's head as, at this point, being empty. While the figurative notion of one's head being empty is a rather common expression, here it emphasizes the special circumstances around which this story is set—Jack's head has been slowly sapped of resources for two years of not only storytelling, but domestic life in general, and on this particular afternoon, on this day on which the story takes place, Jack finds his head finally empty. Jack's empty head describes his emotional state and parallels his perception of his marriage as an empty thing, devoid now of love and passion—even of the simple desire to communicate with his wife, Claire.
Jo as She Was as a Baby (Simile)
When Jack reaches the part of the story when Roger Skunk knocks on the wizard's door, he "rap[s] on the windowsill" for dramatic effect, and Jo's "tall figure clenched with pleasure, as it used to when she was a baby" (346). Much of the descriptive language surrounding Jo throughout the story relates to the fact of her growing up. Her feet reach half-way down Jack and Claire's full-sized bed (which once dwarfed her), and she's outgrowing the simple structure of stories that Jack tells her. In Jack's view, she also now fakes excitement with deceitful expressions that mirror his wife's. An important difference, however, between Jo's outgrowing of traditions from her infancy and Claire's pretending to be entertained at a cocktail party is that Jo is four years old and is not aware that she's performing being entertained. In fact, Jo's behavior demonstrates that she would like to retain the traditional structure of Jack's bedtime stories. When Jack dispenses with the deus ex machina conclusion, Jo rages—she wants her anticipated happy ending. So when Jack performs knocking on the wizard's door, and Updike makes a special note of Jo physically reacting in a way that recalls her infancy, it is another demonstration of how Jo exists in this in-between stage that is not infancy but is also not fluently engaged in language and self-consciousness.
Should Wizard Hit Mommy? Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Should Wizard Hit Mommy? is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.