Fear pervades Rabbit, Run, though the novel does provide moments of relief. The main character, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom thinks he’s caught in a contracting and expanding "trap," or "web," or "net." He runs to counteract the fear this trap produces, though he’s usually running, literally, in circles. Fear drives Rabbit to run, and to be still – to leave, but to always return. He’s afraid the trap he’s stuck in is the trap of mediocrity; he’s sure something better awaits him. So he runs. Yet, he has obligations to others, and he fears that abandoning them makes him a bad man. So he goes back and forth. And back and forth, until his final run at the end of the novel.
Rabbit, Run argues that the idea of marriage as a sacred institution breeds a culture of fear in 1950s America.
Rabbit’s fear of his mother is the root cause of his selfish actions.