Rabbit, Run’s author, John Updike says that looking at 1950s America through the eyes of his main character, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom opened his eyes to the decade. The novel mostly focuses on February, March, and June of 1959 (though the rest of the decade is seen through memory), and on Brewer, Pennsylvania and its suburb, Mt. Judge. The view can be breathtaking in terms of natural beauty. The novel’s landscape is rich in mountains and virgin forests and lush gardens. It can also be cramped and suffocating when we find the characters where they live, and where TV characters show them what the American Dream is supposed to look like. Rabbit, Run’s vision of America asks us to interrogate our own visions of America by exploring America in 1959.
By fictionalizing his vision of America in 1959 through the eyes of Rabbit, Updike demonstrates that insight is only gained with the ability to see through the eyes of others.
A close look at Updike’s 1959 shows us not only how much America has changed, but also how much it has remained the same.