Updike was among the first authors’ publishers to frankly and graphically, writes about the issue of sex in the United States, however, he is forced to make several changes in his writing in the Rabbit Run to the original manuscript that was eventually reinstated to avoid lawsuit.
According to Updike, sexual revolutions were truly arrived in the sixties and caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty even, in a sense, human hard-heartedness, and divine Grace. Rabbit Run moved a controversy due to its descriptions about sex and two most extended passages of this nature that illustrates Rabbit making love to Ruth for the first time and later he failed to attribute the same to Janice. Rabbit meets Ruth Leonard, an adventuresome girl who will did things for him that his wife, Janice, would not be able to do (Updike 126).
Rabbit moves in with Ruth and promptly impregnates her. Unfortunately, Ruth had a strange admiration for a man who left his wife and a child, an act which cannot be justified at all. Rabbit meeting Ruth shows a sexual encounter in this context since he went a head and got intimate with her of which was unexpected despite having a wife, a child, and the relationship moves further in bringing a controversy between Ruth and Janice. However, Janice is not ready to give up her husband without a fight of her own, so she calls on the Church. This context elaborates that Janice was in love with Rabbit since she was not ready to loose him and that is why she is moving a step a head to include the church in order to fight for him no matter what happens.
According to Updike, both occasions has the prime motif develops as to show need to connect on both spiritual and physical level. Sex extends more than simply an act of lust however, it is never completely associated with love, and instead it comes out as a religious process even in which two people try to create an invisible bond. Regarding Updike’s writing, it has a great significance and it influenced the attempts in film to present sex as beautiful but essentially tragic act regardless of Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris or the Latest, Bruno Dumont’s.
In the book, several questions rise up; for instance, “Does Rabbit love and whether is he capable of loving someone?” (Updike 85). We never know for sure since the situations are totally contradicting, however, Updike certainly links the amorous with the fearful. This is when Rabbit worries that his wife may die in childbirth, this portrays his love for her most strongly, and same case as it is the memory of Rabbit’s protectiveness of Miriam that advocates the depth of his connection to her. However, the question of love is not solely Rabbit is regarding on how he behaves and he does not show it.
The first instance we adopt Ruth’s perception, Updike create an extended, almost stream of consciousness passage showing the romantic and sexual encounters of her past. There seems diminutive verification of any true love in those ancient times and yet in her pensive recollections of the shame of boys concerning their genitalia we can sense an indisputable affection that has not yet eroded. This context brings a great controversy since in this case it is hard to answer the questions that arise, however, to some level we can argue that Rabbit loves Janice however, the case of Ruth totally changes his motive and is confused since he thinks that Ruth is better in some other things, which are essential according to him.
The case of extended sexual encounter in this book according to Updike can be seen evolving in the relationships that come out and develop to something as unexpected and this is due to may lust or some instincts of thought. Updike points out his sexual escapades in delicious detail, and enduring on the feel of the female body to the hetero male and it is discussed in much of his works. Nevertheless, there is so much more to this book, which explores morality, religion, science, community, parenting and the changes in US society in the last 50 years. Updike tries to analyze his sexual assignation with the various women he encounters in most cases and it was a revelation that made him carry out enough survey that helped him in his works. This defines his view regarding issue of sex and morality that brings an impact in society and outlines the problems that emerges out of it. His sharp examination and the boyish wonder with which he delight the whole idea and act of sex, made this book worthwhile. In some extent, the book is also a mirror to the transitions that the American society underwent from the end of the depression and through the turbulent decades of the 60’s and the 70’s.
How do you know anxiety and craving are present?
In this book, anxiety and craving ought to be present. This is conveyed in the essence on how men and women get in relationships and what happens after they have gotten themselves into it. For instance, Rabbit and Ruth are craving to have each other even though one cannot tell precisely whether they love, each other or it is because of lust however the anxiety that they have leads to something. According to Updike, he shows how Ruth and Rabbit got intimate and promptly she ends have becoming pregnant due to the anxiety that they both had. In addition, the feelings that they have for each other are not defined fully and one cannot precisely tell what happens amongst them.
According to Updike (85), “Sexual passion the chief means of silencing the dread of death and only when being loved and we find external corroboration of the supremely high valuation each ego secretly assigns itself”. Sex, is therefore bound up with the Promethean disapproval forced in the lead of human animal who knows it must die at the end. This consequences sex has a huge but not a promising dimension in our lives today. In addition, also accounts for Updike’s intention to bring sex both out of the closet and off the altar, and thus to reveal sexuality as a function of, rather than a suspension of, personality.
The problem is that our new sexual freedom that is conveyed in the book, though a valid corrective to the old repression, knows no limits on the same note and this makes the context to be taken from a different perspective. Due to the decline of traditional matrimonial fidelity, once sanctioned by church and state alike, sex becomes a surrogate deity according to the writings of Updike, which is not taken to be very significant according to many.
However, to some level, the anxiety of some individuals craving for sex makes it to be seen from another perspective. In fact, sexual revolution is a direct associate of the contemporary eclipse of God (Updike 85).
Social and psychological sources of this tension
Most of the stories in Updike’s writings clearly convey the social and psychological sources of tension. More especially when associated with the married life and this comes out as form of vignettes or isolated episodes, episodes that nevertheless reveal much about the characters and their moments of heightened awareness of the pain and toil involved in married life. Updike controls the situation of the social life on how it is prevailed in society well and that he had perfected long before the inconspicuous and neorealist of the 1970s took it up. For instance, when it points out on how Ruth starts to socialize with Rabbit and what the socialization lead to since they were playing with each other’s psychology.
On the same note, Janice gets to know about what happens between Rabbit and Ruth and she is ready to use the church to make things work out because she did not want to loose Rabbit. This ought to be perfectly suited to the leak of small insights that Updike depicts to be after, and that allows him to exercise his stylistic gifts in a way that can transform the stories into something like lyrical set pieces. In addition, the slighter stories have these kinds of lyrical moments, as in the conclusion to “The Crow in the Woods” (Updike 90). Therefore, social and psychological factor can be pointed out clearly regarding on the episodes that there are many relationships of which others are working and others do not, for example in the case of Janice, Ruth and Rabbit.
- Updike, John. Rabbit, Run. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010. Print.