by John Updike
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Third Person (Limited Omniscient)
Most of Rabbit, Run is told from the perspective of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, though occasionally the narrator will slip into other characters’ heads. At the beginning of the novel, we see Rabbit through the eyes of some young men playing basketball. In one section, we see Ruth through Rabbit’s eyes, and then Rabbit through Ruth’s eyes. The novel’s most harrowing section is narrated from Janice’s perspective. We also gain insight from peering into the minds of Jack and Lucy Eccles. Is this just a half-baked attempt at narrative democracy? A deeper look suggests otherwise.
When the narrative shifts to the perspective of Eccles, we get vital information that would be clumsy to convey through Rabbit. How could Rabbit ever tell us what transpired in the crucial conversation between Eccles and Kruppenbach? When we look at Janice’s horrific scene, Updike’s solutions to narrative dilemmas are genius. The whole story hinges on Rabbit not being present when Rebecca dies. From there on out it plays like an existential murder mystery/courtroom drama. Everybody is on trial for Rebecca June’s murder, most of all Rabbit, because the novel is mostly from his perspective.
Ruth and Lucy’s sections are compelling. Both are atheists. Both are open-minded about sex. Ruth is Rabbit’s live lover. Lucy is his dream lover. What a contrast to the highly the restrictive standards held by the other characters.
One more thing: Why are Ruth and Rabbit the only characters to share a chapter? Is sharing a chapter in an Updike book a special literary honor?