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Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run

by John Updike

Rabbit, Run Chapter 2 Summary

  • Rabbit dreams and sleeps like a traumatized person. He wakes as it’s getting dark.
  • He hears the men downstairs and in confused dreaminess thinks they hunt him.
  • He hears Tothero and realizes the men are just being men together.
  • He wakes to Tothero yelling his name.
  • He’s been drinking and says he has a female for Rabbit.
  • The he asks Tothero if it’s Janice.
  • He tells Rabbit it’s after six, and that they shall be dining out.
  • He asks about the girl, and Tothero tells him about his woman.
  • Rabbit gets scared and tries to leave.
  • Tothero gets emotional and Rabbit wants to get away from him, but stays out of respect.
  • Rabbit reminds him they’re supposed to talk about Janice, and Tothero says they will talk about that after they’ve taken care of business.
  • Rabbit dresses nervously and Tothero offers Rabbit a clean shirt to wear to Brewer and it turns out they wear the same size: “fifteen three,” or a 15.3 inch sleeve.
  • Tothero is brimming with delight. Rabbit is looking in the mirror and sees the shirt fits.
  • Tothero watches in a motherly fashion.
  • Rabbit begins to grock Tothero’s plan, now that he’s not so mortified.
  • Tothero wants to know when Rabbit last had some fun.
  • He tells him he did last night.
  • Tothero says that Rabbit will like his city woman.
  • He doesn’t know Tothero's companion, but Tothero says she thinks she’s fat.
  • Rabbit is nonchalant and feels calmer, free from his cramped apartment, but wants to know where his car is.
  • Tothero says it’s still there, and starts hurrying Rabbit.
  • Rabbit wants to know if there was gossip about him in town.
  • He keeps thinking of his wife and kid.
  • Tothero says he hasn’t heard anything, but that he wasn’t places where he would have.
  • It rankles Rabbit that Tothero seems only to care about partying with him.
  • He grumbles about missing work, his voice accusing. Saturdays are banner sales days.
  • Tothero asks about his job, and Rabbit tells him about selling the MagiPeel Peeler in what we might call today a dollar store. Tothero approves and is happy Rabbit is dressed.
  • Now Rabbit wants a comb and needs to go the bathroom.
  • Rabbit hears the men downstairs and worries about them seeing him.
  • When they get to the bar, the men stare at Rabbit.
  • Tothero keeps introducing him and bragging on his county records in 1950 and 1951.
  • (Ah ha! If Rabbit was twenty six when we met him yesterday, and this is 8 years later than when he got his last record, this must be 1959!)
  • Rabbit thinks Tothero looks foolish to the men and is ashamed of him, so he hides in the can.
  • The bathroom depresses and paralyzes him, so he goes back to Tothero.
  • They get in Rabbit’s car and drive toward Brewer, and Tothero starts talking about his lady friend and how much Rabbit will like her.
  • He’s acting very strange and jerky and then he tells Rabbit that he (Tothero) is a horrible guy who should be hated, and then starts talking about his wife.
  • He says that in 1943, during World War II, his wife’s skin turned into an awful patchwork of tough skin, and that’s when things started to go bad.
  • He wants to know if Rabbit is listening.
  • Rabbit tries to talk to him about Janice again.
  • Tothero calls her a mutt and says they should talk about the real women, who are in abundant supply.
  • In spite of Tothero’s nuttiness, Rabbit is a little excited.
  • They park, and go to the women at a Chinese restaurant. Rabbit gets nervous when he sees them.
  • Tothero introduces Margaret Kasko and Rabbit, and she reminds him of Janice.
  • She introduces him to Ruth Leonard, but forgets his name.
  • He says to call him Harry or Rabbit.
  • Ruth calls him “a big bunny.”
  • Ruth is a voluptuous (what Rabbit calls “chunky”), tall woman, in a green dress, with reddish-brownish hair in a bun. She has on sandals that are too small for her feet.
  • He says he’s only “big outside.” She says she’s the same.
  • Rabbit says he’s hungry. Tothero is glad and they walk into the restaurant.
  • Turns out Rabbit and Ruth were both in the class of 1951, though at rival schools.
  • Her school lost to his.
  • Rabbit disparages the team. She defends them. Having dated three of them, she knows.
  • Rabbit wants to know if it was a foursome. She says: “In a way.”
  • She has trouble walking in those shoes, but he likes her outfit and her voluptuousness.
  • He bumps into her and feels and smells her hair with his bunny nose.
  • Then they banter about whether Tothero is a bum or not.
  • It seems like she doesn’t know much about Tothero.
  • Rabbit defends him, citing his coaching history as evidence of his credibility.
  • Ruth offers Rabbit a smoke, but he holds strong. Tothero admits he is a bum, playing the jolly reveler. Margaret defends her prince against the bum charges.
  • Turns out that can drink can be procured here, via the bar next door.
  • Tothero orders a double scotch whiskey.
  • Margaret, Ruth, and Rabbit order Daiquiris.
  • Rabbit wants to know why Ruth recognized him but not the coach.
  • She makes disparaging comments about coaches and Rabbit defends coaches.
  • They banter about whether a team is “all coach,” Rabbit’s position, or “all boy,” Tothero’s position and surely Ruth’s too, and maybe Margaret’s – but she isn’t talking.
  • She’s a hard core flirt, and Rabbit digs her forthrightness.
  • This is getting steamy.
  • The waiter tries to give them silverware, but Tothero spurns it, requiring chopsticks for all.
  • Now we hear from Margaret, who clings frantically to her cutlery, clearly afraid of the deadly chopstick.
  • Rabbit and Ruth are cool with the chopsticks.
  • They banter about the phenomenon of Chinese food in Texas.
  • Rabbit tries to bum a smoke. They get into a nuanced spat about this, and about him asking her for a dime. He gets all paranoid and gets his own for the tabletop jukebox.
  • She gives him a smoke. He isn’t holding a grudge.
  • The waiter comes with menus and plastic chopsticks. Rabbit, ever alert for quality, yearns for wooden ones.
  • Margaret picks sweet and sour pork. Rabbit and Ruth flirt about his Chinese food experiences in Texas. He claims to be able only to read Chinese food menus in Chinese.
  • She questions his claim to past Texas residency. His memory confirms he was there.
  • She says the Army doesn’t count, annoying Rabbit.
  • Tothero starts in about coaching. A coach coaches three aspects of a boy: head, body, and heart.
  • Ruth adds “crotch,” making Margaret laugh, which makes Rabbit more weirded out by her. Tothero gets mad and hurts her feelings.
  • Tothero continues: The head needs strategy.
  • He makes sure Rabbit is listening. The body needs running, lots of running.
  • When he talks about the heart, it’s a bit more complicated.
  • The good coach swells a boy’s heart. And then the boy can never really be a “failure.”
  • Ruth asks Rabbit about his work. He tells about the MagiPeel Peeler.
  • Tothero praises his work prowess, and Rabbit asks about Ruth’s work.
  • She claims not to have one, coyly sipping her drink. When the food gets there, Rabbit is drooling. He likes how the meat is disguised down to highlight the vegetables.
  • Veggies are “candy” to Rabbit. And the portions of white rice are “steaming breasts.”
  • Everybody at the table gets “a hot breast.”
  • They eat and are rejuvenated, and Rabbit praises Tothero’s coaching skills.
  • Tothero praises Rabbit’s athletic tendencies.
  • Rabbit brings up a short guy that tripped him in a game.
  • Tothero seems surprised not to remember the incident, and wants to hear that Rabbit avenged himself violently.
  • Rabbit cannot oblige. He never needed to resort to violence.
  • Tothero is bothered by his hazy memory but he remembers that Rabbit was not prone to injury. Rabbit reminds him of a wrist sprain. Tothero is bothered by his memory lapses.
  • Rabbit mentions “Harrison.”
  • Ruth clearly knows him, which makes Rabbit think she might have slept with him, as he was a “bedbug.”
  • She gets less certain of knowing him when Rabbit seems alarmed.
  • He admires the way she eats, in contrast to Margaret’s yucky fork eating.
  • Tothero is concerned that they lost games in the past
  • He orders another round. Rabbit declines another drink. Margaret gives a hard time, increasing his hate for her.
  • Rabbit tries to remember where his best game was played.
  • Rabbit wants Tothero to remember the name of the school – the name having something to do with birds.
  • Tothero seems troubled by his inability to remember. Rabbit remembers exuberantly that it was Oriole High. Rabbit remembers even the details of the weather.
  • Tothero comments on the superiority of Rabbit’s memory, then snags his drink off the waiter’s tray. Rabbit talks about being in the zone that night at Oriole.
  • Tothero doesn’t remember and Rabbit wants the others to feel how he felt: powerful and strong. Margaret is sarcastic in her praise of him.
  • Tothero call hers a tramp and she smacks him. Tothero and Margaret leave, fighting a little bit. Ruth and Rabbit discuss Margaret being a hitter, her having hit Ruth.
  • Ruth thinks Tothero likes it. They agree she is dumb.
  • Rabbit reveals he is married, but has left. Ruth says it’s just a holiday.
  • Rabbit tells the waiter not to worry, that he will get the bill. He starts telling Ruth about Janice. She stops him.
  • He asks her weight, which is 147 pounds. He praises her pounds, and she doesn’t want to talk about that either. So he talks about the MagiPeel Peeler.
  • That doesn’t work either. Things get awkward.
  • Rabbit finds out that Ruth’s roommate moved out.
  • He’s concerned that she has to pay the whole rent and “doesn’t do anything.”
  • He offers her some rent money. She accepts, asking for fifteen dollars, five more than he offered. Rabbit pays the bill and they leave.

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