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Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run

by John Updike

Rabbit, Run Chapter 8 Summary

  • When he’s doing it, he has the authority of God on his side, making people OK to deal with. He’s at the Springers’ now.
  • He thinks Mrs. Springer looks like a small, roundish gypsy.
  • He thinks Mrs. Springer and Janice “have a sinister aura.”
  • Mrs. Springer uses her ability to make people feel awkward like a tool, a tool that comes with being rooted in “middle-class life.”
  • With Janice the ability is not a tool, because it’s not connected to anything and can hurt her and those around her.
  • Eccles feels most guilty when around Janice and is glad she’s in Brewer with the Fosnacht woman watching Some Like it Hot. Eccles follows Mrs. Springer out to the back porch.
  • Through its screen, Nelson and young lord Fosnacht can be kept an eye on while the play in the backyard.
  • The Springer house must have cost a pretty penny to furnish, but it’s over-furnished.
  • Mrs. Springer’s ankles are bandaged and she walks stiffly with pain.
  • She sits on the porch swing, which seems a relief. She wears scuffy saddle shoes.
  • Eccles sits on a lawn chair.
  • He can see the kiddos near a “swing-slide-and-sandbox set,” like the one at Eccles’ house which he shamefully had to get “Angus, the old deaf sexton” to put together for him.
  • Mrs. Springer gives him a hard time for not coming sooner.
  • He says it’s only been three weeks. He talks about how busy he’s been.
  • The opulence of the Springer house makes him uncomfortable.
  • Mrs. Springer says he has a rough job, and he says he pretty much likes it.
  • Then she says that’s what she’s heard and gives him a hard time about golf with Rabbit.
  • He’s thinking: oh man, here it comes, I should have known, and then he starts thinking of Rabbit. How appealing he must have been to Janice.
  • He says he’s playing golf with Rabbit to get to know him, so he can help him find Jesus.
  • Mrs. Springer wants to know what he knows about Rabbit.
  • Eccles says “he’s a good man.” “Good for what?” she wants to know.
  • He wants to know if people have to be “good for something,” then decides that people should.
  • Mrs. Springer is yelling at Nelson to stop crying, but not checking to see why he is.
  • Eccles sees that the not-bright-looking Fosnacht kid has jacked the smaller kid’s truck and is threatening to pop him in the chest with both trucks.
  • Mrs. Springer yells some more.
  • Nelson says: “Pilly have – Pilly,” which sounds like he wants her to have pity but really means Billy has his truck. Then he smacks Billy.
  • Billy pushes him and he falls down. He tells Mrs. Springer about the truck theft.
  • She wants to let them work out their own problems.
  • Eccles makes Billy give the truck back. He gives it back by dropping it on Nelson’s head.
  • Nelson cries more.
  • His grandmother tells Eccles he’s a sissy, because he’s like Rabbit, thinking he should get whatever he wants. Eccles defends Nelson.
  • Mrs. Springer accuses him of blaming the whole mess on only Janice.
  • He says there is no excuse for what Rabbit did, but that Janice had her roll in it, too.
  • She thinks that’s an unrealistic position.
  • Janice is not only about to go into labor, but is the town joke, what with Rabbit shacked up and doing fine.
  • Talking shrilly about the unfairness of a woman’s position in these situations, her eyes well up, but she doesn’t cry. Her words are like little knives on Eccles’ face.
  • The thought of the townspeople enjoying the spectacle of Rabbit and Janice “has surrounded him with a dreadful reality.”
  • He compares it to giving a Sunday sermon, and doubts his words have any meaning.
  • He tells her “Harry is in some ways a special case.”
  • She says Rabbit has no conscience and that she should have called the cops on him.
  • Eccles thinks for a second that she means she wants Eccles arrested.
  • He thinks he deserves it. He thinks that his preaching, the words, are crimes against children.
  • He thinks he’s a big fake when he says “Our Father” when his heart knows the real father he has been trying to please all his life, the God who smokes cigars.
  • Eccles tells her he thinks Rabbit will go back to Janice. Mrs. Springer doesn’t buy that.
  • At her request, Eccles brings her a chair to put her feet on.
  • She thanks him, and he says that’s the only thing he’s been able to do for her.
  • He likes that he said that, but “mocks” the fact that he likes it.
  • She doesn’t know what “anybody can do.”
  • He brings up cops and lawyers. She says her husband doesn’t want that.
  • Eccles says the only thing the law can do is make Rabbit give money, and that money isn’t the point. Mrs. Springer disagrees.
  • Eccles says that it’s really about “the general health of the situation,” and that it’s ultimately up to Rabbit and Janice how things turn out.
  • He watches Nelson, now the leader, and Billy go to the neighbor’s dog.
  • Nelson hits it. Eccles is afraid he will get bit.
  • Mrs. Springer says Rabbit needs to be motivated to come back.
  • Eccles says he senses trouble between Rabbit and Ruth, that Ruth is a passing fancy and Janice is who he really wants. The dog is chasing the kids.
  • Mrs. Springer is mad. Eccles goes to Nelson and asks if he got bit.
  • Nelson imitates a dog snapping, then gets scared and goes to his grandmother.
  • He is moved when he finds Nelson with his face on his grandmother’s stomach.
  • He tells them that the cops should be called on Rabbit if he doesn’t return upon the birth of his new child. Mrs. Springer is explaining that Elsie the dog doesn’t like being teased.
  • Nelson says the dog is “naughty.” She says he’s the one who’s “naughty.”
  • She threatens corporal punishment if he continues harassing Elsie.
  • He protests, but is no longer scared.
  • Eccles is still thirsty but doesn’t want to be there anymore so he leaves.
  • He goes to 303 Jackson, the Angstroms’. Mrs. Springer is washing clothes in the sink when he gets there. He’s still thirsty but can’t quite ask for a drink.
  • She says she can’t tell Rabbit what to do. Eccles wants to know if she’s talked to him.
  • She thinks Rabbit is too “embarrassed” because Eccles makes him “ashamed.”
  • Eccles thinks he should be.
  • Mrs. Springer disagrees and says Janice has always been near nuts, and that she never wanted her for a daughter-in-law, and then complains about her.
  • While she is talking, “Eccles realizes she is a humorist.” He says Janice is just “shy.”
  • She complains “Hassy” had to marry her when she got pregnant and thinks Janice doesn’t deserve everyone’s pity.
  • In response to Eccles’ question, Mrs. Springer says Mr. Springer wants Rabbit to go back to Janice.
  • She says that she hears in church that “men are all heart and women all body,” and Eccles decides to visit their Lutheran pastor. She feels like Rabbit is getting a hard time over this. Then Mr. Angstrom arrives.
  • This business with Rabbit and Janice has really hit him hard; he feels very bad for Janice, and wonders how such disorder could have been caused by Rabbit, with his love of order.
  • Mrs. Angstrom says Rabbit changed after the Army. Mr. Eccles says he didn’t want to work with him.
  • Finally, Mrs. Angstrom offers him coffee. He asks for water instead.
  • The Angstroms talk about Rabbit’s determination as a young man, as a basketball player.
  • Eccles says he sees it when they play golf. Earl Angstrom wants to kick his son’s butt.
  • Eccles talks about how much he likes Rabbit.
  • Angstrom says he thinks Rabbit needs an butt kicking and the cops, not golf.
  • He declares Rabbit his enemy. Mrs. Angstrom thinks Rabbit will go back to her, but Angstrom doesn’t. Mrs. Angstrom is crying.
  • Eccles says he hopes Rabbit does go back, and then tries to leave.
  • On his way out Mr. Angstrom introduces Eccles to Rabbit's sister, Mim.
  • She looks like her dad.
  • He thinks that they have a solidity to them, that they are in control of themselves.
  • He ponders what he considers his “weakness,” a preference for people who are lost in life. Back in the Buick he thinks how nobody he talked to today believed in Rabbit.
  • He drives across town to the home of the Lutheran minister Fritz Kruppenbach, who’s been the minister her for twenty-seven years.
  • Kruppenbach’s wife lets Eccles in and the place reeks of cooking beef.
  • He waits for Kruppenbach in the study. He wishes he was playing golf with Rabbit.
  • Rabbit is his ideal golf partner: “both better and worse than he.”
  • Eccles also wants to beat Rabbit; he thinks this will somehow solve Rabbit’s problems.
  • Kruppenbach is irritated to be called away from mowing his lawn.
  • Eccles says he wants to talk about the Angstroms. He confirms that Earl Angstrom is a printer.
  • Kruppenbach calls Rabbit a Schussel (a German word that means, roughly, scatterbrain), which Eccles doesn’t understand.
  • Eccles starts telling Rabbit the whole story and about his plan to save Rabbit.
  • Kruppenbach stops him and tells him it’s none of his beeswax, and that he should butt out.
  • Eccles protests but Kruppenbach silences him, saying Eccles has only been here two years to his twenty-seven.
  • He thinks that Eccles has sold out to gossip, that God doesn’t care about these petty matters.
  • He thinks that there are people with worse problems, like starvation.
  • That Eccles is acting like a cop and he should stop.
  • He says the only thing Eccles should be doing is making himself an “exemplar of faith.”
  • That he should fill up on Christ and give that to the people for comfort.
  • Then Mrs. Kruppenbach calls him to dinner. He wants Eccles to pray but Eccles is too mad, and tells him so. He leaves, his head full of bad thoughts about Kruppenbach.
  • He is depressed and makes himself more so by telling himself that Kruppenbach is right.
  • Feeling like a failure, he doesn’t go home, but to the “drugstore in the center of town.”
  • He feels like the drugstore has the products that really help people.
  • “Eccles feels most at home in Godless public places.”
  • He orders an ice cream soda, and drinks two glasses of water while he waits for it.

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