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Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run


by John Updike

Rabbit, Run Chapter 5 Summary

  • Tuesday is cloudy as Rabbit busses to Mt. Judge to see Eccles.
  • He gets off the bus at Spruce and is walking around singing “Oh I’m just wild about Harry.” He is feeling good. He has fourteen bucks, and he saw by snooping in her bank book that Ruth has money in her account.
  • They went bowling and to the movies four times.
  • Ruth’s humor and quirkiness seem to please him.
  • She kept asking Rabbit “is she a real hooer” about Ingrid Bergman whenever the camera was on her in Inn of The Sixth Happiness.
  • He gets to Eccles’s place and is greeted by a saucy green-eyed, freckle faced woman in orange shorts. Rabbit knows right away that she wants him.
  • He greets her arrogantly. He asks for Eccles, who is sleeping, having worked late last night. Rabbit is sympathetic, but insists he was invited.
  • The Eccles’ receiving room is pretty fancy with lots of framed pictures.
  • Rabbit finds it cold and is drawn to the smell of baking.
  • They hear a bumping sound. She says: “I thought the brat was asleep.”
  • Rabbit asks if she is the baby sitter. But she is not. She is Mrs. Eccles.
  • Rabbit is wearing a blue golf shirt.
  • They sit and he sees she is older than he first thought, but has “firm knockers.”
  • He learns the Eccles have two sons and two daughters.
  • He speaks of Nelson. She says boys are easier for her. She and the girls are so similar they can read each other’s minds, creating clashes.
  • Rabbit is shocked and wants to know if Eccles knows.
  • Apparently Eccles favors the girls (the wife calls them his harem, which is a little disturbing) so it’s an even deal.
  • She says males are sexually threatening to other males from birth. She wants to know if Rabbit is threatened by Nelson. He is not. She compares Freud to God.
  • For a minute she reminds him of Ruth. He is surprised to find “there is a world of women outside Janice.”
  • Then Eccles is crying to Lucy, his wife, that Joyce is trying to get in with him, and that she claims to have gotten permission. Lucy is proud.
  • She gets up and hollers up to him that he has a guest.
  • Rabbit yells up about to him that they were to play golf. Eccles promises to come down.
  • A kid, presumably, Joyce is crying and blaming her mother.
  • When Joyce hears her husband call him Harry, she starts giving him the third degree, and realizes he’s the abandoner. He confirms that information, and he “slaps! her sassy ass.”
  • Her blood rises but her eyes are cold. Eccles appears, disheveled, sleepy, and apologetic.
  • Rabbits thinks it’s off, and comments on the cloudy weather, then remembers how nice Lucy’s butt felt. Rabbit thinks she would have ratted him out if she wasn’t irritated that Eccles was going to play golf. She pesters him about people he needs to call on.
  • They argue about a couple named the Ferrys. She wants him to bring them into the fold.
  • He doesn’t want to bother. He claims she wants Mr. Ferry in because of his shoe factory.
  • Apparently Lucy is not a believer, and Eccles consented to marry her as long as she was open to the possibility. Joyce appears, and is sent back to nap.
  • She says it’s too noisy. Her parents accuse each other of yelling.
  • The child claims to have dreamed that “a lion ate a boy.”
  • Lucy blames this on the Hilaire Belloc poems Eccles reads her before she sleeps, claiming they are traumatic. Eccles says she likes them, that they are funny.
  • She doesn’t like the questions the poems provoke. Eccles says they wouldn’t bother her if she were a believer. Rabbit stops them for a second when he smells “burning cake.”
  • The Eccles keep arguing between themselves and the child.
  • Eccles tells Joyce to talk to Rabbit. Rabbit asks her if she is good. She says she is.
  • He asks, hoping Lucy will hear, if Lucy is good. Joyce says she is.
  • Then Rabbit asks Joyce: “What makes her so good?”
  • The question scares the child almost to tears and she runs off.
  • Rabbit surveys the room and thinks of Lucy and decides he loves her.
  • Rabbit hears the Eccles talking about him. Eccles tells her Rabbit is scared.
  • She doesn’t understand why Eccles can’t talk to Rabbit without Eccles playing golf with him. Rabbit thinks she will tell of the butt slapping now, but she does not.
  • The domestic hustle and bustle continues and then they leave, taking Eccles’ car.
  • Eccles starts the conversation off by bringing up Rabbit’s believer status and the tree and the waterfall. Rabbit admits to plagiarizing “Mickey Mouse.”
  • Eccles laughs, flirting with Rabbit with his mouth. He wants to know what’s “inside” Rabbit.
  • Alas, this does not entice Rabbit to speak. He thinks he’s just a pawn in Eccles’ game.
  • He gives a Eccles a very nothing answer. Eccles has a confidence about him.
  • Rabbit asks about Janice. Eccles, reporting Rabbit’s thereabouts to the Springers, witnessed Janice with Nelson and a friend of hers with mirrored glasses.
  • Peggy Fosnacht neé Gring. Wife of Ollie – a “jerk,” according to Rabbit.
  • This leads to a discussion of the name Fosnacht, and a combination of folklore and urban legend.
  • In Mt. Judge/Brewer they “celebrate” Fosnacht Day, which they do not celebrate where Eccles comes from, Norwalk.
  • Apparently, if you are the last one down the stairs on Fosnacht Day, you are the Fosnacht.
  • Rabbit’s grandfather would wait for Rabbit to emerge from his hollow before descending, lest Rabbit be the Fosnacht. This was his maternal grandfather.
  • Eccles speaks of his paternal grandfather’s and his complex religious heritage.
  • Grandfather was a bishop, then joined the Unitarians when he couldn’t beat them.
  • Eccles father was “orthodox” and “almost Anglo-Catholic,” which locked father in son in perpetual religious conflict. It was his grandfather who turned him on to Belloc.
  • Lucy doesn’t like Belloc because he “mocks children,” who are sacred in her religion, which is psychology.
  • Turns out Eccles’ father found worship services boring and wanted to bore others with them as little as possible.
  • He thought that the “jungle god” was not at home in the living room.
  • The grandfather’s objects were depressing for the father, and Eccles and his brothers were afraid of this.
  • Eccles adored his grandfather, but found him both extreme and diluted at the same time.
  • Eccles cites Jesus and his grandfather in defining hell as “a separation from God.”
  • Rabbit says that everyone is relatively separated from God.
  • Eccles objects, arguing that we don’t know from separation, that real separation from God would be far more terrifying and dark than we can imagine.
  • Laughing, he says that the kind of separation Rabbit speaks of is “inner,” whereas the hell kind is “outer.” Rabbit lets his guard down, and is excited at making a friend.
  • Rabbit says he thinks something out there in the world “wants him to find it.”
  • Eccles smacks him down by saying that all bums think they are questers.
  • Rabbit's like: Jesus was a quester. Eccles starts to blush or break out because Rabbit said Jesus. He rebuts with a quote from Jesus: “Saints shouldn’t marry.”
  • They arrive at Chestnut Grove Golf Course, where Rabbit used to caddy. Back then this was very primitive, not all plush like now.
  • Eccles offers Rabbit a job gardening for Mrs. Horace Smith and her eight acres.
  • Rabbit says he doesn’t garden. (Bunnies eat gardens, they don't tend them, silly.)
  • Eccles tells him it will give him free time to practice his gift of gab on “the multitudes.”
  • Rabbit does not appreciate this sophisticated jab which, by comparing Rabbit to a preacher, to Jesus, to saints, and to himself, mocks Rabbit as a perverted version of these.
  • Rabbit declines the job. Eccles brings up Ruth. Rabbit wonders who ratted him out.
  • Rabbit denies knowledge of said person. Eccles now calls him a “mystic” and says he’s all about the ladies. Rabbit’s had about enough. Eccles apologizes and pleads depression.
  • Rabbit doesn’t know why, but this rubs Rabbit wrong. He’s getting confused and can barely thank Eccles for paying. Eccles “is known as a fag,” and Rabbit feels like his “new pet.”
  • Rabbit is feeling worse now. He isn’t playing well, though Eccles praises and instructs him, blaming Rabbit’s poor game on bad luck.
  • Rabbit apologizes and Eccles encourages him more.
  • Rabbit is about to pass out though, and says he has to lie down, but it doesn’t look like he actually does.
  • He starts hallucinating.
  • He hallucinates that the iron golf clubs are Janice.
  • Some dirt hits him and he thinks that it’s Golf Clubs Janice hitting him with it/herself.
  • His anger at her tears up his insides. He hallucinates that the wood golf clubs are Ruth.
  • He hits the ball, which has a grass stain for a mouth, with her. It runs away and hides in a bush. Rabbit walks over to get it only to find that the bush is his mother.
  • Eccles is still cheering him on, and coaching him. Rabbit is begging Janice to help him get the ball in the hole. Unfortunately Janice is too afraid of the ball to hit it properly.
  • Rabbit asks Eccles about her again.
  • Eccles tears himself away from the game and says Janice and the Fosnacht were giggling together and she seemed ok.
  • He warns Rabbit that Janice will probably be really happy living back home for a while.
  • He thinks that will be her way of showing Rabbit she can be happy without him, too.
  • Rabbit says she isn’t keen on her folks and probably married him to get out of their house.
  • Eccles tells Rabbit that he seems really deeply involved with Janice and that he can’t understand how Rabbit left her. Rabbit speaks of an absence.
  • Eccles asks if he’s seen this absence somewhere else.
  • Rabbit explodes that Eccles should know the answer to that.
  • Eccles tries to explain that “we want to serve God, not be God.” Rabbit claims to know what it is. Eccles presses him.
  • Rabbit realizes he wants Eccles to tell him what he’s been missing, to admit that this absence exists.
  • Then Eccles says Rabbit is “monstrously selfish” and a “coward,” and amoral.
  • Rabbit wants to be untangled from this situation.
  • Praying for rain, he ends the game, getting the ball in the hole.

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