Study Guide

The Natural The Supernatural

By Bernard Malamud

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The Supernatural

Rabbit's foot? Check. Lucky penny? Check. Special undies? Check. Evil eye necklace? Check. Now we're ready to play baseball.

Bernard Malamud's The Natural uncovers all the wild superstitions that live inside a baseball team's locker room, but the supernatural doesn't stop there. Roy Hobbs, the protagonist, seems to have some special powers, where things that he wishes for or imagines come true, at least on the field. This usually turns out pretty badly for other people—one guy that he wished was dead actually smacks into the outfield wall and dies. Malamud takes the ordinary superstition that most athletes and sports fans will recognize and elevates it to a more supernatural level.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Which of the superstitions described in the novel is your favorite? Do you practice any of the rituals the players in The Natural do? How does it work out for them, and for you?
  2. Do you think that Roy has powers that make thoughts come true on the baseball field? If so, why doesn't he use them to help himself?
  3. What is the narrator's attitude towards all the superstitious beliefs in the novel? How do we know?
  4. Why do you think that sports are so jam-packed with superstition? What is it about baseball that makes the players in the novel so dependent on good or bad luck?

Chew on This

The Natural shows the power of the human mind to influence your outcomes, but the players don't recognize their powers; they think it's something supernatural.

In The Natural, superstitious rituals distract the characters from their own responsibility in the events in their lives.

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