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Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run


by John Updike

Rabbit, Run Chapter 4 Summary

  • Rabbit has a confusing dream when he sleeps in Ruth’s bed. Rabbit and his parent and some others are at a kitchen table. A girl twists the handle of a “wooden ice-box.”
  • This opens the door to a cave with a big block of ice in it.
  • The block seems alive. His mother wants him to close the door.
  • He says the girl did it. The girl is hassled, and it makes Rabbit “bleed” inside.
  • Rabbit stops his mother, defending who he thinks is his sister, but is really Janice.
  • Now they are in Rabbit’s mother’s “flowerbed.” He hugs her.
  • Now they are behind the Mt. Judge Recreational Hall. Janice’s bawling in a pink dress.
  • He tries to reassure her that the scene with his mother was to hurt him, not her.
  • Then her face melts and melts, and drips into his hands.
  • He is relieved to wake up in Ruth’s bed. He starts snuggling her and touching her.
  • They have sex again. He makes sure she didn’t fake her orgasm.
  • They almost surely did not use protection this time. Church bells (now it’s Sunday) bring Rabbit to the window. The people going to church make Rabbit pray silently to Jesus for help and forgiveness for all. Ruth says all the church business of Sundays nauseates her, that she is not among the faithful. Rabbit says he thinks he is among the faithful.
  • They discuss belief and God. Ruth is hurt by his faith.
  • He tries to give her another fifteen dollars. She tells him to leave.
  • Then they engage in much playful banter.
  • She says she like that he is big, and that he is a fighter.
  • Rabbit totally loves this, and decides to go to the store so she can cook (since she likes to). She says she has no clients today.
  • He goes off to the store, thinking she is his now. He brings back an odd assortment of hot dogs, frozen vegetables, cheese, and sweets. Cost: Two dollars and forty three cents.
  • She thinks he doesn’t eat well. He says there weren’t any lamb chops; he did what he could. He checks out her place while she cooks.
  • Rabbit is hit by a memory of Sunday mornings when he was a kid, taking a walk when Mim was a baby. Then Ruth suggests they walk this afternoon.
  • He agrees.
  • The chow is good, but he remembers his nightmare of Janice’s melting skin, and almost loses his appetite. He tries, though, and gets it back.
  • He starts talking about his car, telling her about it.
  • He decides he wants to leave the car at Janice’s, and get his clothes, and move in with Ruth. She isn’t sure, so he says, “Just for tonight.”
  • He says he loves her. She says he’s “bad news.”
  • He really feels love for her and says she’s “good news.”
  • He feels good and bold driving toward the apartment he used to share with Janice.
  • He gets nervous when he gets closer to his place on Wilbur. He scopes it out, trying to see if someone is there. No one seems to be. He goes in.
  • It’s messy and abandoned. Janice floods him.
  • He wanders through the apartment trying to come to terms with things.
  • He thinks about when they made love after she took a shower.
  • In the kitchen he finds the dinner she was making for him the night he left.
  • He starts to take out the trash, but it’s too much, so he just soaks the dishes.
  • He gets some clothes and leaves, locking the key in the apartment.
  • He’s thinking of the stuff he needs that he forgot to get.
  • Outside he runs into a neighbor woman, in church clothes, carrying palm fronds.
  • It is Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter). They make small talk and a gray car goes by, slow. The neighbor realizes there is a clergyman in the car.
  • Rabbit knows he’s from the Episcopalian church the Springers attend.
  • There is a tiny chance the minister won’t be sure enough it’s him to stop him. But how many six foot three bunnies can there be wandering around Mt. Judge?
  • He leaves the area, wanting to get back to Ruth in Brewer. The clergyman is following him in the car. He asks in a kid’s voice if he’s Harry Angstrom.
  • Like a lie, Rabbit says yes.
  • The minister introduces himself, giggling, as Jack Eccles and gets out of his 1958 Buick.
  • He has a cigarette in his mouth but it’s not lit.
  • Rabbit has to put his clothes down to shake hands with Eccles, who shakes hands like hugging. He looks both worried and friendly.
  • Eccles asks him where he is going. Eccles is close to Rabbit’s age and is on the short end of tall, muscular. Rabbit says: “Nowhere.”
  • Eccles asks for a match. Rabbit, still quitting, has none. He offers Rabbit a ride. He refuses. Eccles wants to talk about Janice.
  • Rabbit notices that Eccles looks tired, thinking that Sundays would be lots of work for him.
  • Apparently, half an hour after he left, Janice called her in-laws asking them to bring Nelson home.
  • Rabbit’s father obliged, and then looked to see if Rabbit was playing basketball somewhere. Around 2:00 in the morning Janice had called her parents.
  • Rabbit feels sorry for her, wishes to comfort her from afar.
  • Janice was drunk and freaking out by then and her mom called Eccles to help.
  • Rabbit offers an apology for waking him. Eccles irritably brushes it off.
  • The minister is glad to hear it when Rabbits says he feels bad.
  • He asks Rabbit’s plan. Rabbit doesn’t have one.
  • Eccles laughs and Rabbit “feels flattered.”
  • Eccles says Rabbit’s mother thinks Rabbit hasn’t really left his family.
  • Rabbit lets Eccles know he understands how much work he has.
  • Rabbit asks for a ride to Brewer. Eccles seems surprised he doesn’t want to see Janice.
  • Rabbit thinks that would be hopeless. Eccles says that’s because Rabbit wants it to be hopeless. They drive away together.
  • Eccles wants to know why Rabbit ran, and Rabbit says it was her asking him to get cigarettes. He thinks this is the truth. He speaks of feeling trapped in a domestic mess.
  • He wants to know why Rabbit came back. Rabbit explains it was for his clothes.
  • Eccles tells him clean clothes won’t help hide his dirty actions.
  • Rabbit says he was dropping off the car, too.
  • Eccles puzzles over this and says if he was doing what Rabbit was, he’d drive far away in his car.
  • Rabbit sees this as common ground, and jubilantly exclaims that he did just that.
  • Eccles puzzles. Rabbit explains he felt safer here.
  • Eccles asks if he also wanted to protect Janice. This had not quite occurred to Rabbit.
  • Eccles wants to know why Rabbit thinks himself so special.
  • Essentially Rabbit says he’s looking for the things in his life to be of high quality, like him when he was a basketball star. His life with Janice was not high quality.
  • As they hit Brewer, Eccles asks if Rabbit is a believer.
  • Since it’s his second time being asked today, he easily says he is.
  • Eccles wants to know if Rabbit thinks God wants Rabbit to hurt Janice.
  • Rabbit snaps back with something he heard from MC Jimmie:
  • “Do you think God wants a waterfall to be a tree?” Rabbit thinks this is silly now, having said it. Eccles thinks and then says no, that God wants the tree to mature.
  • Rabbit says he doesn’t mind Eccles’ insult. Being mature is like being dead.
  • Eccles says he’s not mature either.
  • Rabbit is still hot at the insult and says he’ll never go back to his family, complaining about the MagiPeeler job. Eccles comments on Rabbit’s silver tongue.
  • They relax, understanding each other and themselves better.
  • Rabbit wants to get out on Weiser Street. Eccles’ golf clubs are making noise in the trunk.
  • Rabbit gets invited to golf.
  • He agrees to come to Eccles’ house for golf the day after tomorrow at two.
  • He wants Rabbit to promise, which he does, but warns that his promises are no good.
  • Eccles says he has to trust him anyway.
  • Rabbit is amused by the situation and feels good about things.
  • When he gets back, Ruth greets him at the door, holding a mystery novel.
  • They banter and indulge in sexy talk. Ruth asks him about his trip.
  • He tells her about the leaving the car and everything that happened with Eccles. Their conversation is easy. He’s glad to get clean clothes on and he shaves with Ruth’s razor.
  • He wants to go for that walk now, but Ruth is reading The Deaths at Oxford, a mystery (which the Internet hasn’t heard of).
  • He tries to take the book, wondering how she could read with him in the room.
  • He succeeds in de-booking her and insists on the walk.
  • She says she’s sleepy. He teases her that they will hit the sack early.
  • He likes that she knows this is sexy talk. They talk about her having only high heeled shoes. She puts on her heels and he admires the part in her hair.
  • They walk through the park to get to the mountain.
  • They start up the overgrown, log steps the city built up the mountain when hiking was more popular.
  • This is hard in heels and, when they are almost halfway, Rabbit suggests she removes her shoes. She worries it will hurt her feet. Rabbit suggests they go back down.
  • She wants to persevere, but does soon take off her shoes.
  • Rabbit takes his off too, and whines a little, good-naturedly.
  • The logs have grass growing on their ends and this is what Rabbit and Ruth walk on.
  • Rabbit hugs her and, when she doesn’t respond, determines she’s not having fun and is just walking to reach the end. A woman thing. He calls her a queen and a horse.
  • Maybe she understands that when Rabbit calls you an animal, it’s usually some kind of compliment. They get to the top and walk up three flights of zigzaggy steps.
  • They are in the Pinnacle Hotel parking lot. They look down on the city.
  • He wants to breathe in the city’s truth. He realizes all the talk of God today had got to him.
  • He thinks of someone dying in the city. He hears the traffic.
  • He gets scared and wants a hug and Ruth, though reserved, comforts him.
  • He asks her if she “was really a hooer.” She’s not pleased. He is nervous.
  • She asks if he is “really a rat.” Carefully, he says: “In a way.”
  • She says: “All right then,” and they bus back to Brewer.

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