by John Updike
Rabbit, Run Chapter 6 Summary
- Time passes and we find Rabbit in Mrs. Smith’s “acres,” tending her lush beds from dawn to dusk, then bussing back to Brewer.
- Two months have gone by, and the gardening has made it so he doesn’t have to cut his fingernails. He loves this life among nature – the simplicity, the solitude, and the interactions between himself, and nature, and his tools.
- The rhododendron plantation part of the garden is in full splendor: a botanical equivalent to Rabbit’s zone. It’s near the end of May.
- Of course, the different flowers in the garden remind Rabbit of women. Some he’s known, and some he imagines and would like to know.
- Mrs. Smith comes out to witness this rhododendron peak. On Rabbit’s arms she goes among the flowers.
- She holds on to him like a “vine” holds a “wall.” She is vulnerable, but has a pretty good hold. She is very old and making great effort; she is pretty cheerful too.
- She tells Rabbit that she used to tease her late husband, Horace, about the rhododendrons.
- She would say she preferred straightforward colors to the wishy-washy “salmon” of the “Rhody.” She says she said it to tease him, but that she meant it.
- She would have preferred the acres had been used to grow alfalfa, or buckwheat – edible crops. She could give Horace the business like that because she was older than him.
- She is surprised she outlived him. She does fancy one rhododendron of deep shining pink, the Bianchi. She gets a little wild and asks if the month is June.
- He says: “Not quite. Memorial Day’s next Saturday.”
- She talks about buying the Bianchi during the Depression, before the war.
- She says he probably thinks she means the Korean War (1950-1953) when she says “the war.” He says he thinks “the war” is World War II.
- She agrees, excited that Rabbit remembers it.
- She says they lost a thirty-nine-year-old son to the war.
- She says she hates war, but that World War II was worth winning, not like World War I.
- She talks more about the Bianchi, but thinks she’s repeating herself and gets flustered.
- She claims theirs is the only Bianchi in the U.S.
- She starts moving faster. It’s getting late.
- As they walk she says: “I appreciate the beauty but I’d rather see alfalfa.”
- She doesn’t know why she can’t make peace with her surroundings.
- She talks about being sarcastic with a woman who called the garden “heaven” year after year, admonishing herself and calling herself “an old sinner.”
- She thinks it’s ironic that the woman, Alma Foster, is dead and knows the truth about heaven.
- Rabbit speculates that Alma’s heaven is rhododendron, while Mrs. Smith’s will be alfalfa.
- Mrs. Smith loves this and agrees wholeheartedly. Commonality is achieved!
People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...