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Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run


by John Updike

Rabbit, Run Chapter 13 Summary

  • Meanwhile, Rabbit is running, uphill to the hospital.
  • He is flooded with information as he runs, from all the signs and buildings and nature. Music.
  • He feels the world through his feet.
  • In the ’hood, he gets paranoid and “runs harder,” through urbania.
  • Rabbit arrives at St. Joseph and prays to the moon to: Make it be all right, before going in.
  • He asks the nun (a real nun) at the desk for Janice and is sent to the waiting room.
  • He is surprised the nun doesn’t admonish him for not being here sooner.
  • That to her he’s just another father.
  • He thinks for a moment that the hospital might be a jail and the other two men, who are together, are the cops that popped him.
  • Rabbit sits down and reads Reader’s Digest, an article about religious conflict, whilst the two men talk low to each other, with hand wringing and urgency. In comes Eccles, with a haircut, looking tired. Rabbit want to know if Janice knows he’s there.
  • Eccles says he’ll get the information to her, “if she’s still conscious.”
  • Then Eccles flirts with Sister Bernard at the counter.
  • Then he gives Rabbit a cigarette. It makes Rabbit woozy, and he has to sit down.
  • Eccles sits, too. They don’t communicate well unless playing golf.
  • So Rabbit reads The Saturday Evening Post, an article about cheap, family camping.
  • Rabbit can’t focus. The words look like a possibly unconscious Janice having the baby.
  • He smells the hospital smells, all the dirtiness of human existence.
  • He is sure that his sin will be punished with the death of either Janice or the baby.
  • He feel like his sin is inside him, a little ball, and he feels the urge to excrete it.
  • This doesn’t make him talk to Eccles. Then he reads about the cheap family campers eating fish. He sees Eccles as right on the brink of his “fear,” something outside of Rabbit’s perception of what is real.
  • He seems to be freaking out – like he’s run all this way and he’s still late.
  • He asks about the Springers and Eccles goes to find out where they are, but Rabbit stops him, annoyed by his moving about. Eccles is jittery.
  • They pass the hour of midnight.
  • Rabbit is listening and he becomes convinced the child will be a monster.
  • Then he gets that idea wrapped up in his memory of making Ruth give him a blowjob.
  • He feels like what sounds to us like a piece of art, a still figure in a variety of poses.
  • Or a performance, but with an absence of “belief.”
  • He thinks: There is no God. Janice can die.
  • He feels like he’s swimming in the sperm he’s “spat into the mild bodies of women.”
  • He thinks of his first lover, Mary Ann. And about how he was mad when she got married, but now the thought of her makes her happy. (He’s found his happy place!)
  • Eccles starts telling him about and article on “why Jackie Jenson wants to quit baseball,” shaking Rabbit from his reverie. Now he’s comparing baseball and the ministry.
  • Rabbits suggests Eccles leave. It’s about 2 a.m.
  • Eccles wants to stay and Rabbit tells him he promises to stay too.
  • Eccles finds this funny. While they discuss labor lengths, Mrs. Springer comes in from the VIP room. Then Mr. Springer emerges and greets Rabbit.
  • Then Mrs. Springer accuses him of being a buzzard. She says Janice will live and doesn’t need Rabbit. Mr. Springer and Eccles move her off.
  • Rabbit is stung, but he appreciates Mrs. Eccles stating outright how big a deal giving birth is. That she voiced the possibility of Janice’s death allowed Rabbit to share the burden with her. He feels intimately connected with her, through their connection to Janice.
  • The Springers pass back through. Eccles gives Rabbit another cigarette.
  • Dr. Crowe comes out and announces that a baby girl was born(!)
  • Rabbit is excited. Everything went fine and the baby weighs “six pounds ten ounces”
  • Janice was awake throughout. Rabbit is surprised Dr. Crowe isn’t mad at him.
  • Rabbit asks permission to see Janice, and the Dr. Crowe seems surprised that Rabbit is asking for permission. Rabbit thinks the doctor doesn’t realize just how awful he (Rabbit) is.
  • He tells Rabbit that Janice has had a tranquilizer and then defers to Rabbit as to whether or not Mrs. Springer could go first. Rabbit lets her go ahead.
  • Eccles has exuberance written all over his face.
  • Rabbit isn’t seeing him, but rather focusing on the sense of fullness he’s acquired.
  • He goes in to see Janice and she hugs him a little too tightly.
  • She’s giddy from anesthesia and can’t feel her legs. Rabbit checks and she does.
  • She says she had an epidural.
  • She says she told Mrs. Springer that the baby made a “cross” face and looked like Rabbit.
  • Rabbit tells her about Mrs. Springer giving him a hard time. She says she didn’t want her mother. She wanted Rabbit. He doesn’t understand why.
  • Janice says she felt like she was giving birth to Rabbit.
  • They are nice to each other and Janice asks Rabbit if he wanted a girl and he realizes he did. He asks about Nelson, and Janice in a friendly way says Nelson won’t stop asking for him.
  • Rabbit is surprised to find himself crying, and he says: “I can’t believe it was me. I can’t believe I left.”
  • Janice is talking very sexy and then a nun comes and tells them visiting hours are over.
  • Janice giggles more about the baby looking cross. She wants Rabbit to stay.
  • He’s say he will soon return. They say I love you.
  • Eccles is waiting for Rabbit and wants to know if he’s going back to Ruth. Rabbit says he can’t. Eccles offers to put Rabbit up for the night, and he reluctantly agrees.
  • He sleeps deep inside himself.

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