I simply cannot appreciate Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom. I keep butting my head against the incongruity between what I think of him and what it appears the author thinks of him. I'm almost finished, his daughter has just been born, he's returned to his family, yet there is still nothing redeeming him in my eyes. He is just evil. Well, maybe evil isn't the right word, but he's definitely lacking any sort of moral compass that I would attribute to gentle humanity. For instance, this exchange between he and his wife, who has just given birth some 2 weeks prior:
She asks, "Why can't you try to imagine how I feel? I've just had a baby."
"I can. I can but I don't want to, it's not the thing, the thing is how I feel. And I feel like getting out." (p.230)
Reprehensible. I just don't understand the appeal of this self-centered monster. I don't mean to imply that readers everywhere are seduced by him, but the characters are. Everyone in this book loves Rabbit. Everyone. And I just don't see how that could be possible. Updike's language at times reveals the gifted artist he proved himself to be throughout his career, but the thin characterization uncovers his youth.
Here's an example of something quite amazingly good, as he describes Rabbit's printer father:
A straight man, who has measured his life with a pica-stick and locked the forms tight, he has returned in the morning and found the type scrambled. (p. 151)