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Literature / Rabbit, Run

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Rabbit, Run is a 1960 novel by John Updike.

The novel depicts three months in the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a 26-year-old former high-school basketball player from Brewer, Pennsylvania who is trapped in a loveless marriage and a boring sales job, and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.

Word of God says that this was written in response to On the Road. A film adaptation was released in 1970, directed by Jack Smight and starring James Caan as Rabbit. Updike later featured the character in three additional novels (Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest).

Rabbit, Run contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Title: Along with all of its sequels.
  • Comic-Book Time: Averted. Each of the succeeding Rabbit novels was published roughly a decade after the previous one, and each depicts Harry having aged another ten years.
  • Domestic Abuse: Being the 1950s, neither Harry nor any other characters in the book think anything of him getting rough with his romantic partners when they displease him (or he's simply upset). Culminates in his sexually assaulting Janice, which leads to her getting drunk and accidentally drowning their infant daughter.
  • Everytown, America: Deconstructed. As Updike noted, "My subject is the American Protestant small-town middle class. I like middles. It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules."
  • Glory Days: Harry is a former basketball star who peaked in high school. Eight years on, he still can't stop hanging out with his old coach and reminiscing about his glory days.
  • Jerkass: Harry isn't an easy character to like or root for. He's self-centered, small-minded, irresponsible, womanizing, and frankly terrible as a husband and father.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The fictional Brewer is modeled on John Updike's home region of Berks County, Pennsylvania.
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: Harry works in a department store, selling a kitchen gadget called the MagiPeeler.