Thursday, April 09, 2009

Prime Passage: Rabbit, Run by John Updike

"He hates all the people on the street in dirty everyday clothes, advertising their belief that the world arches over a pit, that death is final, that the wandering thread of his feelings leads nowhere. Correspondingly, he loves the ones dressed for church: the pressed business suits of portly men give substance and respectability to his furtive sensations of the invisible; the flowers in the hats of their wives seem to begin to make it visible; and their daughters are themselves whole flowers, their bodies each a single flower, petaled in gauze and frills, a bloom of faith, so that even the plainest walk in Rabbit's eyes glowing with beauty, the beauty of belief. He could kiss their feet in gratitude; they release him from fear. By the time he enters the church he is too elevated to ask forgiveness. As he kneels in the pew on a red stool that is padded but not enough to keep his weight from pinching his knees painfully, his head buzzes with joy, his blood leaps in his skull, and the few words he frames, God, Rebecca, thank you, bob inconsecutively among senseless eddies of gladness. People who know God rustle and stir about him, upholding him in the dark."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this up. I loved every Rabbit book, even the final short piece. This quote from the first I've completely forgotten. Reading it, I realized again Updike's way of getting a character in your head. Seemed so much of Rabbit was an agglomeration of American, I guess male American, peculiarities. His viewing folks in everyday dress as "over a pit" and his viewing them longingly in Sunday finery speaks to that "being saved," heaven-hell idea that permeates, and this "regular" fellow's, Rabbit's, fears and hopes and desires along those lines--one gravid segment here. Glad we had Updike when we did; his works always enlightening. Thanks.