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Rabbit, Run | Quotes

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1.

Fraud makes the world go round.


Narrator, Part 1, Section 1

Rabbit comes home and finds Janice watching Disney's The Mickey Mouse Club on television. Jimmie, a character on the show, addresses children through worn, simplified Christian platitudes. Rabbit watches Jimmie tell his young audience the way to be happy is through self-knowledge. He speaks and sings in platitudes, then puckers his mouth and winks. To Rabbit Jimmie is selling something that doesn't work, or is so watered down as to be useless. Applying Jimmie's action to MagiPeel, the product he sells, Rabbit appreciates—and mimics—this gesture because of its situational irony, suggesting the whole culture is conspiring to perpetuate the fraud, or the false promises, that underlies society.

2.

He never knows what the hell she'll do. She doesn't know herself. Dumb.


Narrator, Part 1, Section 1

Rabbit realizes he doesn't have the key for the car Janice has left parked in front of her parents' house. He not only blames her for being careless and distracted, he judges her character. This is the second time in Part 1, Section 1 Rabbit has called Janice stupid. However Rabbit finds Janice has left the keys for him inside the unlocked car. "Bless that dope," he then thinks to himself.

3.

Is it just these people I'm outside, or is it all America?


Narrator, Part 1, Section 1

Rabbit stops at a rural café in West Virginia in the middle of the night. He feels acutely he is different from everyone else in the place: they regard him as a stranger, and he feels like one as well. Rabbit considers his feeling of alienation with respect to his previous belief in America's homogeneity. Yet Rabbit, in his flights and quests, is indeed alienated from others who don't feel or act as he does.

4.

You can't understand an old man's hunger, you eat and eat and it's never the right food.


Marty Tothero, Part 1, Section 2

Tothero wakes Rabbit and announces they're going to dinner. He asks if Rabbit is hungry but is in a state of excitement and doesn't listen for the answer. What Tothero is really expressing is his excitement at the night with the prostitute Margaret Kosko he has planned. Sexual desire is the "old man's hunger" Tothero speaks of. He implies despite his advanced age, no matter how much sex he has, the urge for more never goes away. He also implies attempts to satisfy his lust by distracting himself with other activities do nothing to diminish it.

5.

After you're first-rate at something ... it kind of takes the kick out of being second-rate.


Rabbit Angstrom, Part 1, Section 4

During their first conversation Eccles seeks to understand why Rabbit walked out on Janice. When he realizes Rabbit thinks of himself as special and asks why, Rabbit has a ready answer: he has already experienced his own excellence through basketball, and his relationship with his wife doesn't measure up to the feelings he had on the court.

6.

It seems plain, standing here ... the true space in which we live is upward space.


Narrator, Part 1, Section 4

Standing atop Mt. Judge and expecting the unseen to reveal itself to him, Rabbit wonders why what seems obvious to him is lost on those around him, specifically Jack Eccles and Ruth Leonard. They have challenged his belief that reality is a hidden dimension within the illusory and visible world. Rabbit fails to understand his dedication to this invisible world is not a sign of his being more in touch with truth. Rather it comes at the expense of his responsible participation in the visible world. Rabbit doesn't grasp that he has moral duties to others, whether or not the visible world is truly "real."

7.

Somewhere behind all this ... there's something that wants me to find it.


Rabbit Angstrom, Part 1, Section 5

Rabbit Angstrom explains his core belief to Jack Eccles as they drive through a half-suburbanized wilderness on the side of Mt. Judge on their way to the golf course. Dismissive, Eccles tells Rabbit he is just another deluded "vagrant" who believes his irresponsibility is actually a "quest." Rabbit is offended.

8.

Christianity isn't looking for a rainbow ... We're trying to serve God, not be God.


Jack Eccles, Part 1, Section 5

Jack Eccles believes Rabbit misunderstands a fundamental distinction in Christianity. Rabbit is looking for something bright, beautiful and awe-inspiring, as he had with basketball. Eccles tries to correct Rabbit, but in doing so he seems to be speaking as much about his own actions as a minister as he is about Rabbit's devotion to life's extraordinary moments. Eccles's meddling in the lives of his parishioners, trying to fix their problems, is later criticized by Kruppenbach as his attempt to fix what only God can. Somewhere in these varying definitions of Christianity throughout the book, Updike may be giving approximate meanings of what faith may actually be and can offer to troubled souls if they can find it.

9.

He is certain that as a consequence of his sin Janice or the baby will die.


Narrator, Part 2, Section 7

Rabbit Angstrom shows startling foresight as he faces his own anxiety and guilt for his sin—a mixture of flight, cruelty, obscenity, and conceit—in the waiting room of the hospital while Janice is in labor. The baby does in fact die a few weeks later in a startling foreshadowing come true of his feelings at the crucial moment of the baby's birth.

10.

He feels ... caught in chains of transparent slime, ghosts of ... urgent ejaculations he has spat into ... women.


Narrator, Part 2, Section 7

Rabbit realizes the trap from which he seeks to free himself is of his own making. This is an example of Updike's use of nets or traps, which Rabbit mentions to explain whatever is specifically troubling him. In the car the map that failed to lead him south becomes the net. Here, while he waits in the hospital and Janice is in labor, Rabbit's own semen becomes the substance of the net as he realizes his unrestrained and irresponsible indulgence of lust has trapped him into the duties of parenthood. The rabbit as both prey and breeder is embodied here.

11.

The thing that had left his life had left irrevocably ... No flight would reach it.


Narrator, Part 2, Section 9

Playing with Nelson at the playground in Mt. Judge, Rabbit realizes he wants his own youth, but he will never recover it because he has handed it to his son. The loss of his youth, Rabbit feels, makes him "junk." As a parent Rabbit is expected to stop living for himself and devote his life to nurturing his son. Because his own peak experiences are the only things Rabbit values, and they are tied up in a past now gone, Rabbit feels his life is worthless and meaningless.

12.

Underneath everything, he possesses ... a dominance over her, and ... she is prepared for this dominance.


Narrator, Part 2, Section 9

As Rabbit walks with Lucy Eccles back to the Eccles house after attending church, he feels sure he is in control of the situation, and she will submit to his authority. He sees his authority as a fundamental attribute of being a man, just as her subservience is a fundamental attribute of being a woman. Rabbit's misogynistic hubris is challenged moments later when she slams the door in his face after he implies he would sleep with her were it not for his fresh recommitment to Janice. That night he reasserts his male authority by forcing himself on his wife.

13.

How easy it was, yet in all His strength God did nothing. Just that little rubber stopper to lift.


Narrator, Part 2, Section 10

After the baby's death, Rabbit returns to the apartment alone and drains the bathwater that drowned his daughter. He believes God could have prevented her death with as much effort as he now pulls out the drain stopper. For some reason the all-powerful, all-seeing God Rabbit sometimes believes in chose to let his daughter die. Rabbit's thoughts suggest he is blaming or criticizing God for neglecting his duty, but it is his terror at human powerlessness that underlies this attitude.

14.

He obscurely feels lit by a great spark, the spark whereby the blind tumble of matter recognized itself.


Narrator, Part 3, Section 11

Duality collapses for Rabbit in the woods as he flees the cemetery where his daughter's funeral is being held. After stumbling through ever deeper, darker, more labyrinthine forest, he comes across the ruins of an old home. His irritation and confusion at navigating the forest turn to horror when he realizes nature is peopled by ghosts and thus has a self-consciousness like his own—which he will one day lose.

15.

'It's O.K.,' he'll tell him, 'I'm on the way. I mean, I think there are several ways.'


Narrator, Part 3, Section 11

After Rabbit says Janice killed their daughter and flees from the infant's fresh grave, he imagines what he will say when he calls Jack Eccles from the Pinnacle Hotel. Eccles believes he engineered Rabbit's return to Janice, counting it his first professional success. Rabbit knows this and now wants to reassure his friend this present flight doesn't mean Eccles has failed—Rabbit is now securely on the correct path. However, in amending his statement about "the way" to refer to "several ways," Rabbit reveals he is as confused as ever about where he is going, what he is doing, and why.

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