Harry Angstrom - “Rabbit, Run” by John Updike

A Comprehensive Analysis of Literary Protagonists - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Harry Angstrom - “Rabbit, Run” by John Updike

John Updike's "Rabbit, Run" and Harry Angstrom's Complicated Evolution

John Updike's "Rabbit, Run" presents readers to Harry Angstrom, a man whose trip forms the main body of the book. Harry Angstrom's origins, personality traits, motivations, conflicts, relationships, symbols, character arc, language, and the cultural and historical setting of the story will all be examined in detail as we go into an in-depth investigation of his persona. Through the utilization of a methodical approach, our goal is to disentangle the intricacies of Harry Angstrom and illuminate his importance in the story.

Determine the Type of Character

Harry Angstrom is a compelling character who changes and develops significantly along the narrative. When we first meet him, he's a restless, unhappy man looking for direction and meaning in his life. Harry faces both internal and external challenges as the story progresses, forcing him to face his shortcomings and make difficult choices that will ultimately determine his fate.

Consider the Character's Place in the Narrative

Harry Angstrom is the main character of "Rabbit, Run." His actions, decisions, and challenges on a personal level propel the tale along, making him a crucial figure in the story. Harry serves as the main character, and readers can examine issues of identity, societal expectations, and the quest of happiness via his experiences.

Analyze the Past of the Character

Harry's attitude and perspective are greatly influenced by his upbringing. His upbringing and early experiences—he was born into a working-class family—have contributed to his restlessness and yearning for a life beyond the norm. The lack of a dependable paternal figure in his life also affects his choices and relationships.

Personality Characteristics

A variety of personality traits that Harry Angstrom displays add to his character's richness. He is impetuous, rebellious, and longs to be free from social conventions on the one hand. However, he struggles with feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and an incessant need for approval. These characteristics give rise to a complex character that readers can both relate to and closely examine.

Textual examples include:

- "Restlessness was the wind that filled his sails."
- "His impulsive decisions often led to unforeseen consequences."

Motivators and Objectives

Harry's main driving force is his desire for contentment and pleasure. Feeling dissatisfied with his routine existence, he sets off on a mission to find meaning and self-awareness. Throughout the book, his objectives change to match his evolving priorities and aspirations. Originally motivated by escape, he eventually looks for real relationships and a feeling of community.

Textual examples include:

- "He wanted something else, something different, something more."
- "The search for happiness became his driving force, guiding his decisions."

Difficulties and Conflicts

Numerous internal and external conflicts that Harry Angstrom encounters advance the story. He struggles within with the tension that exists between his need for personal independence and what society expects of him. External interactions throw him into confrontation, particularly with his wife Janice, which makes him face his own failings and make hard decisions.

Textual examples include:

- "The conflict between societal norms and personal desires tormented him."
- "His strained relationship with Janice presented challenges that tested his character."


Examining Harry's connections reveals aspects of his personality. His experiences with Janice, Ruth, and other people influence how he views human connection, love, and commitment. The power dynamics in these interactions are a reflection of the norms that Harry tries to break free from.

Textual examples include:

- "Janice represented the conventional life he wished to break free from."
- "His relationships serve as mirrors reflecting different aspects of his identity."

Archetypes and Symbolism

Harry Angstrom fits the description of the restless seeker character archetype, which is common in literature. The book also uses symbolism to help readers better comprehend Harry's character. For example, the car he buys on impulse represents both freedom and escape.

Textual examples include:

- "The car becomes a symbol of Harry's desire for freedom and escape."
- "His character embodies the archetype of the restless seeker on a quest for meaning."

Character Story

Throughout the book, Harry experiences a deep character development. He changes from a disillusioned man looking for a way out to a person trying to make sense of his decisions and become real. This development is facilitated by significant occasions and turning moments, which highlight the complexities of his path.

Textual examples include:

- "The turning point came when he faced the repercussions of his impulsive actions."
- "His character arc reflects the complexities of personal growth and self-discovery."

Speech and Conversation

Studying Harry's speech patterns and vocabulary offers further understanding of his personality. His vocabulary, expressions, and speech patterns change as he makes his way through the experiences and obstacles that mold his path. His shifting viewpoints and inner turmoil are reflected in the words.

Textual examples include:

- "His early dialogues are characterized by a sense of rebellion and dissatisfaction."
- "As he undergoes transformation, his language becomes more introspective and nuanced."

Historical and Cultural Background

Understanding the novel's cultural and historical background helps us comprehend Harry Angstrom better. Given that the story takes place in the 1950s, a time of social norms and expectations, Harry's defiance of them becomes more significant. His ideas, behavior, and the difficulties he encounters are influenced by the cultural context.

Textual examples include:

- "The societal expectations of the 1950s play a crucial role in shaping Harry's struggles."
- "The cultural context adds layers of complexity to his character and choices."

Analytical Angles

A deeper comprehension of Harry Angstrom's persona can be attained by investigating scholarly and literary critics' critical viewpoints and interpretations of him. Diverse readings of the book may provide unique perspectives on its themes, symbolism, and societal commentary.

Illustrations from opposing viewpoints:

- "Scholars argue that Harry's character reflects the disillusionment of the post-war era."
- "Various interpretations shed light on the socio-cultural implications of Harry's journey."

Arrange Your Thought Process

A logical order of the analysis guarantees a cogent examination of Harry Angstrom's persona. By following the above-described processes, we may methodically examine every facet of his character and provide readers a thorough comprehension.

Offer Proof

It is essential to bolster observations and judgments with specific passages or quotes from the book in order to make our analysis stronger. By firmly placing our analysis within the text, we substantiate our arguments and provide readers with specific instances that speak to the character's core.

In summary

In conclusion, "Rabbit, Run" by Harry Angstrom explores human complexity, societal expectations, and the quest for authenticity via a variety of perspectives. We dissect his character and the significant influence he has on the story by carefully examining his history, motivations, conflicts, relationships, symbols, character arc, language, and cultural background. By presenting Harry Angstrom in a way that goes beyond the parameters of a conventional character study, John Updike encourages readers to consider their own struggles with meaning and identity. We learn important lessons about the human condition and the age-old quest for self-discovery via Harry's adventure.