by John Updike
Rabbit, Run Theme of Transience
Rabbit, Run’s main character Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom is in a perpetual state of transience. He’s always on the move, usually on foot, though he’s occasionally found in a motor vehicle. He only stops to sleep and mate, and occasionally, to grab a bite to eat. Why does he run so hard? Because he thinks something better than what he has is waiting for him. At the same time he’s afraid of deserting the people he cares about. He runs back and forth trying to find some kind of balance. Rabbit, Run challenges us to wonder if we are settling for mediocrity when sitting still, or risking everything when we make a move.
Questions About Transience
- When Rabbit leaves Nelson at his parents’ home, and tries to skip town, how much, if at all, does his relationship with his mother contribute to his decision?
- Where, if anywhere, does Rabbit feel most at home in the book?
- Why does he feel so alienated in the parking lot of that dinner in West Virginia? Why does he later feel like that was the only steady place in the world?
Chew on This
Rabbit runs because he is afraid that sitting still will force him to embrace a life that he considers mediocre.