Rabbit, Run explores the ways in which individual needs and desires, responsibility, family, religion, pop culture, and The American Dream circa 1959 impact the identities of its characters. The tension between American pioneerism and American conformity results in an identity crisis for the novel’s main character, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom as he runs back and forth between them trying to escape an all pervasive "trap." The results can be both stunningly beautiful and utterly shattering. The open ending leaves it to our imagination (unless we read the sequel, Rabbit, Redux) as to what extent the characters’ identities are, or aren’t, changed by the drowning death of Rabbit’s newborn daughter.
Harry uses his strong identification with the animal the rabbit to justify sex with multiple partners and his need to run away from difficult situations.
Until Rabbit stops needing a "coach" figure in his life, he will continue to remain trapped in his identity as a high school basketball player.