by John Updike
The Mickey Mouse Club, The MagiPeel Peeler, The Used Car Lot, and Mrs. Smith's Garden
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Rabbit watches the Mickey Mouse Club in hopes that MC Jimmie and his "mouseguitar" will teach him to be a better MagiPeel Peeler salesman. To Rabbit, both the Mickey Mouse Club, and the MagiPeel company are symbols of fraud, which he thinks needs to embrace to succeed financially. It’s not clear how he thinks The Mickey Mouse Club is defrauding its audience. The MagiPeel Peeler is easier. There are important nutrients in the skins of fruits and vegetables, but the peeler strips them away in the interest of "economy." Telling people that stripping away the peel will give them more nutrients is fraud.
He feels similarly about working Mr. Springer’s used car lot – where he has to defraud the customer to make a sale. When Janice’s father calls her when Rabbit doesn’t show up for work, she thinks she can sell her father the line that Rabbit hasn’t run out again by using the car lot talk she learned from him. Her father likewise relies on his salesmanship to deal with every problem – even Rebecca June’s death. He uses the fact that he owns a car lot to try to control Rabbit – he gives him a job, and keeps tabs on him that way. How does Mrs. Smith’s garden fit in? Isn’t that where Rabbit is finally happy with his job? Yes, but Mrs. Smith thinks her flowers are a waste of the field – as the peeler strips the vegetables of nutrients, the flowers strip the land of it’s potential to nourish the hungry, fraudulent in the beauty that Rabbit finds nourishing. He just can’t win.