by John Updike
Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom Timeline and Summary
- Friday, Rabbit plays basketball with some kids after work then runs home to his seven months’ pregnant wife, Janice.
- Finding her drunk, sans son Nelson and family car, they fight and then he goes to fetch these items.
- After seeing his son at his parents’ family table, and thinking his own home unfit for the boy, he makes for the car and then runs away in it.
- He doesn’t make it very far though and, after a night of driving and hallucinating, he comes back to his hometown of Mt. Judge.
- But he doesn’t go home to the wife and kid. Instead he hooks up with his old coach, Marty Tothero, and through him meets Ruth Leonard, an ex-prostitute (as of their meeting), with whom he shacks up, in Brewer.
- On Sunday he goes back to Mt. Judge to get his clothes and drop off the car and meets Jack Eccles for the first time. Eccles gives him a ride back to Brewer and they make a golf date for Tuesday.
- He and Ruth go hiking that afternoon.
- On Tuesday he goes to Eccles’ house and meets Lucy Eccles, and slaps her gluteus maximus.
- He plays golf with Eccles and hallucinates that his golf clubs are women and that a bush the ball rolls into is his mother.
- Two months pass and things are running smoothly. He has a nice job working for Mrs. Smith in her garden, and is quite content.
- Trouble is afoot though – Ruth is pregnant, and that’s why she’s acting all weird toward him, though he doesn’t know it.
- They go to the pool one day and have a fight when she accuses him of abandoning his family, and not paying the consequences.
- They go out for drinks one night and run into Ronnie Harrison, Ruth’s ex-lover and Rabbit’s ex-teammate. Rabbit thinks Ruth took Ronnie’s side at the bar and is threatened by their past hook-ups, so he makes her give him a blowjob.
- Then he gets a call that Janice is in labor and leaves Ruth to go back to her.
- The baby is born and Rabbit and Nelson hang out waiting for Janice and Rebecca June to come home. When they do, on a Friday, everything is sort of ok.
- Well, his father hates him, and there’s lots of family drama, but he’s working the car lot for old man Springer, and is in awe of Janice and the baby. Though he doesn’t quite realize the strain that childbirth and caring for an infant are placing on Janice.
- One Sunday, nine days after Janice’s return home, he decides to go to Eccles’ church. And he gets horny from flirting with Lucy Eccles, but wants to save his “love” for Janice.
- But the baby starts crying when he gets home, and just won’t stop.
- Still, he’s only got one thing on the brain: sex. So he clings to Janice and tries repeatedly to have her take a drink, and he chain smokes all day, and it’s really, really hot in there.
- The baby finally sleeps and he gets Janice to take a drink.
- But she’s in no shape for his sexy moves and, when she rejects his advances, he splits.
- The next day he calls Eccles and finds out Janice accidentally drowned the baby.
- So he goes back to Mt. Judge and faces the music.
- With the approval and insistence of his family and Eccles, he decides to stay with Janice and Nelson forever and try to gain forgiveness for the baby’s death.
- He is intermittently sweet and irritable with Janice.
- The morning before the funeral, he dreams he understands the meaning of life and death and is inspired to start a new religion.
- He gets through the funeral, and feels happy that everyone there is sending his daughter to heaven.
- But at the end of the burial service, he snaps, and loudly tells Janice that it’s all her fault.
- Embarrassed, he runs away and gets lost in the woods.
- When he finds his way out, he visits Ruth, learns of her pregnancy and agrees to divorce Janice and marry Ruth.
- But when he steps out to pick up a snack, he decides to run.