I hate Rabbit. Rabbit is Rich by John Updike

See here for my first post on Rabbit, when I read Rabbit Run. See here for my post on Rabbit Redux.

I seriously considered my whole blog today to be one statement.

I HATE RABBIT ANGSTROM.

But then I figured I owed more to this space than just that.

From what I can see from different views online when I searched it, apparently Rabbit has changed, become more in step with his times, whereas the prior two books he was out of sync with the decade. And that might be true but all I can see is what an asshole he is.

First, he always, always has blamed others for the things he does, the way his life is. The following is him talking to Janice, his wife.

“We have a child, not children,” he says coldly, as the gin expands his inner space. They had children once, but the infant daughter, Becky had died. It was his wife’s fault. The entire squeezed and cut-down shape of his life is her fault; at every turn she has been a wall to his freedom. “Listen,” he says to her, “I’ve been trying to get out of this depressing house for years and I don’t want this shiftless arrogant goof-off we’ve raised, coming back and pinning me in.”

In Rabbit, Redux, Rabbit put his son Nelson through one of the worst things you could put a 12 year old boy through. And instead of having some empathy for how Nelson is as a 22 year old, partly as a result of that, and partly as a result of the fact that his dad is a selfish prick, he turns it all around and back to him. Like Nelson is responsible for it all.

Nelson has just gotten into a fender bender and Janice is telling Rabbit about it.
“…He’s really very embarrassed about it.”
“The fuck he is, he loves it. He has my head in a vise and he just keeps turning the screw. That he’d do it to your car after you’ve been knocking yourself out for him, that’s really gratitude”.

Nelson really wants to work at the car lot that Janice and her mother inherited from Janice’s dad when he died. Rabbit runs the car lot, even though they’re technically the owners. He doesn’t want Nelson selling cars on the floor, and from what is said and what is implied, you very much get the sense that Rabbit just doesn’t want Nelson to be around him. He offers him a job in the mechanic’s bay. And it’s only when the Springer women (Janice and her mom) lay the law down that he takes Nelson onto the sales floor. Nelson has some creative and innovative ideas, but because they’re from Nelson and also constitute a change that wasn’t Rabbit’s idea in the first place he continually shoots them down. The prior two books, the major events in each one has partly been caused by Rabbit. However, Janice has a part in both of them as well (in the first book, she was the primary doer of the event, in the second book she was the catalyst for the events that happened after), so he just sticks all the blame on Janice and goes about ruminating on women’s bodies and how he misses wanting to fuck all the time.

For me, I adored Nelson because he actually gave the summary of his dad that I could fully stand behind.

“Maybe what I mind around here is Dad.” At the thought of Dad, the abrasion intensifies. “I can’t stand him, the way he sits there in the living room hogging the Barcalounger. He”–he can hardly find words, the discomfort is so great–“just sits there in the middle of the whole fucking world. Talking and taking. He doesn’t know anything the way Charlie does. What did he ever do to build up the lot? My granddad was grubbing his way up while my father wasn’t doing anything but being a lousy husband to my mother. That’s all he’s done to deserve all this money: be too lazy and shiftless to leave my mother like he wanted to.”

I guess I also am angry that the laziness and shiftlessness keeps working out so well for Rabbit. He has horrific things happen in both the prior books due to his horrific choices and yet he keeps landing back in the cushy Janice pad where he stays until the next whim takes him.

I can’t believe I have one more book to go, one more book worth of Rabbit. From what I can see though, the book goes through to Rabbit’s death. That’s an ending I might be able to root for. Just kidding 🙂 I’m not that callous. And I’d rather see him have to suffer a bit more if I’m honest.

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2 responses to “I hate Rabbit. Rabbit is Rich by John Updike

  1. Pingback: Rabbit At Rest–John Updike | Eleven and a Half Years of Books

  2. Pingback: The Stranger by Albert Camus | Eleven and a Half Years of Books

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