Should Wizard hit Mommy


Should Wizard Hit Mommy

By John Updike

Should Wizard Hit Mommy Introduction

The plot revolves around Jack, a father of two children, Joanne (Jo) and Bobby. Clare, his wife, is expecting their third child. Every evening and on Saturday afternoon naps, Jack would tell his daughter, Jo, a storey. This time, when he was telling her a storey, she interrupted him and asked him questions whenever she felt that what he was saying was incorrect. As a result, Jack is now in a sticky situation and unsure how to respond to Jo's questions. Parents believe that their children should do or believe exactly what they are told. They should believe whatever their parents tell them. Is this, however, the right attitude. The storey raises this moral question and leaves it up to the reader to decide what should be done.

Should Wizard Hit Mommy Summary

The storey begins with Jack's daily routine with his daughter, Jo, which he had been following for two years. His daughter was two years old when the tradition began, and she is now four years old. Every day before going to bed, Jack would tell Jo a storey from his mind, as well as every Saturday afternoon during her nap time. The problem was that he had been telling her stories for so long that he had run out of good storey ideas. Jo, too, was no longer sleeping during the storey sessions. So, when he used to tell her a storey, the basic plot was always the same – revolving around Roger, an animal who changed every day. Roger used to have a problem and would seek assistance from the wise owl, who would refer him to the wizard. The wizard would solve Roger's problem but would request more pennies than Roger had, as well as a solution to go fetch the pennies from a specific place. Then Roger would go to that place, retrieve the pennies, and return home to play with his friends. After having a good time with his friends, Roger would return home before it got dark to await his father, who was on his way back from Boston. Then Jack would end the story by describing what Roger and his family had for dinner.

On this particular Saturday afternoon nap, Jack asked Jo which creature she wanted to hear a storey about, and she replied, "Skunk." So Jack began the storey with Roger the skunk, a very stinky animal. None of his friends wanted to play with him. He went to the wise owl one day and told him about his problem. The wise owl then advised him to pay a visit to the wizard. The skunk then went to the wizard and explained his problem. The wizard then assisted him in resolving his problem and asked as to how he wished to smell. Roger skunk responded that he wanted to smell like roses. He began to smell like roses as a result of the wizard's magic. Then, because he didn't have enough pennies to pay the wizard, the wizard told him to go to the magic well, turn around three times, and he'd find three pennies there that he could fetch and give to the wizard. The skunk did exactly as instructed and gave the wizard his pennies. Later, he went outside, and all the other animals gathered around him because he smelled so good, but when he returned home, his mother did not like the smell and asked who had made him smell so bad.

Roger skunk told his mother the entire storey, and his mother said that she liked his smell earlier, and he smelled like a little skunk should smell. So the skunk told his mother that the other animals had fled from him because of the foul smell, but his mother said she didn't mind. She immediately returned him to the wizard, and as soon as the wizard opened the door, she gave him one on blowing his head with her umbrella, and the wizard changed the skunk's smell, and he smelled foul again. The skunk heard the train approaching as he was returning. That train was carrying his father. They all ate dinner together. When the skunk was about to fall asleep, his mother approached him and told him that she loved him just the way he was and that there was no need for him to change. That's where the storey ended. Jo then asked her father if the animals fled from the skunk after that, to which he replied, "no." They'd all grown get used to the way he smelled. Jo didn't like how Skunk's mother forced him to smell foul again. She wanted her father to tell her another storey the next day in which the wizard hits mommy and refuses to change the skunk's smell.

Then Jack told to see her, and the main point of the storey was that the skunk loved his mother more than any other animal in the woods, and that mommy knew what was best for him. He then told her to go to sleep because her baby brother was sleeping. He then went downstairs, closing the door behind him. His wife was working on the chair rail. He scolded Jo after hearing footsteps above. The footsteps passed out. Clare then asked if it was a long storey, to which he replied, "the poor kid." Then he stood by and watched his wife paint and work, but he was too tired to assist her. He also believed that their marriage was in bad shape and that there was no way to fix it. He also stated that he did not want to talk to her or touch her.
Should Wizard Hit Mommy Lesson Explanation

In the evenings and for Saturday naps like today’s, Jack told his daughter Jo a story out of his head. This custom, begun when she was two, was itself now nearly two years old, and his head felt empty. Each new story was a slight variation of a basic tale: a small creature, usually named Roger (Roger Fish, Roger Squirrel, Roger Chipmunk), had some problem and went with it to the wise old owl. The owl told him to go to the wizard, and the wizard performed a magic spell that solved the problem, demanding in payment a number of pennies greater than the number that Roger Creature had, but in the same breath directing the animal to a place where the extra pennies could be found. Then Roger was so happy he played many games with other creatures, and went home to his mother just in time to hear the train whistle that brought his daddy home from Boston.

  • Nap- a short sleep, especially during the day.
  • Custom: tradition, trend
  • Wizard- a man who has magical powers.
  • Magic Spell- a form of words used as a magical charm .
  • Pennies- a small sum of money.

Jack used to tell his daughter a bedtime storey every evening and on Saturday afternoon naps. This habit began when Jo was two years old, and by the time she was four, Jack had run out of creative storey ideas. The majority of the stories he used to tell Jo revolved around the same plot about an animal named Roger. Roger used to be a different animal in each storey, each with a different problem. Then Roger would go to this wise owl for assistance, who would then send him to the wizard. Roger would then take his problem to the wizard, who would assist him in exchange for some pennies (money), usually a little more than what Roger had with him. After assisting him, the wizard would instruct Roger to go to a specific place to retrieve more pennies, which Roger would do. Roger would then return after paying the wizard, and all the other animals would begin playing with him. He'd be overjoyed, and he'd return home just in time to meet his father, who was returning from Boston by train.

Jack described their supper, and the story was over. Working his way through this scheme was especially fatiguing on Saturday, because Jo never fell asleep in naps any more, and knowing this made the rite seem futile. The little girl (not so little any more; the bumps her feet made under the covers were halfway down the bed, their big double bed that they let her be in for naps and when she was sick) had at last arranged herself, and from the way her fat face deep in the pillow shone in the sunlight sifting through the drawn shades, it did not seem fantastic that some magic would occur, and she would take her nap like an infant of two. Her brother, Bobby, was two, and already asleep with his bottle. Jack asked, “Who shall the story be about today?” “Roger…” Jo squeezed her eyes shut and smiled to be thinking she was thinking. Her eyes opened, her mother’s blue. “Skunk,” she said firmly. A new animal; they must talk about skunks at nursery school. Having a fresh hero momentarily stirred Jack to creative enthusiasm.

  • Supper- an evening meal, typically a light or informal one.
  • Fatiguing- cause (someone) to feel exhausted.
  • Rite- a social custom, practice, or conventional act.
  • Futile- pointless.
  • Shone- past participle of shine.
  • Skunk- A small cat sized animal.
  • Stirred- move or cause to move slightly.

Jack was becoming bored with his daily routine because he had run out of storey ideas. Jo also didn't fall asleep while listening to the storey. He had begun to believe that the practise was a waste of time and that there was no point in continuing. He also noticed that Jo was getting bigger, and her legs were now stretching halfway down the bed when she snuggled in for her storey. With all of the light coming in from the window over her face, which was deep in the pillow, Jack knew she wouldn't be sleeping anytime soon. Bobby, her two-year-old baby brother, was already sleeping with his bottle in his mouth. When Jack asked Jo who she wanted the storey to be about that day, she thought for a moment and replied, "A skunk." Jack then thought that she must have heard about this animal in nursery school and became excited because he now had a new hero for his storey.

“All right,” he said. “Once upon a time, in the deep dark woods, there was a tiny little creature by the name of Roger Skunk. And he smelled very bad.”

“Yes,” Jo said. “He smelled so bad that none of the other little woodland creatures would play with him.” Jo looked at him solemnly; she hadn’t foreseen this. “Whenever he would go out to play,” Jack continued with zest, remembering certain humiliations of his own childhood, “all of the other tiny animals would cry, “Uh-oh, here comes Roger Stinky Skunk,” and they would run away, and Roger Skunk would stand there all alone, and two little round tears would fall from his eyes.” The corners of Jo’s mouth drooped down and her lower lip bent forward as he traced with a forefinger along the side of her nose the course of one of Roger Skunk’s tears. “Won’t he see the owl?” she asked in a high and faintly roughened voice. Sitting on the bed beside her, Jack felt the covers tug as her legs switched tensely. He was pleased with this moment — he was telling her something true, something she must know — and had no wish to hurry on.

  • Woodland- land covered with trees.
  • Solemnly- with deep sincerity.
  • Foreseen- be aware of beforehand
  • Zest- great enthusiasm and energy.
  • Humiliation- make (someone) feel ashamed and foolish by injuring their dignity and pride.
  • Stinky- having a strong or unpleasant smell.
  • Tensely- unable to relax because of nervousness, anxiety, or stimulation.

Then Jack began telling the storey. The storey began with Roger, a skunk who lived in the forest. Roger, according to Jack, had a foul smell. None of the other animals in the forest were interested in playing with him. When he went out to play, all of the other animals began to flee. At the time, Jack was recalling certain humiliations he had endured as a child as a result of his terrible smell. Jo then asked as to whether Roger would see the wise owl. Jack, who was sitting next to her, noticed that Jo was becoming anxious about the storey and was pleased with it. He didn't want to rush through the storey because he wanted to convey a message through it.

But downstairs a chair scraped, and he realised he must get down to help Clare paint the living-room woodwork. “Well, he walked along very sadly and came to a very big tree, and in the tiptop of the tree was an enormous wise old owl.” “Good.” “Mr Owl,” Roger Skunk said, “all the other little animals run away from me because I smell so bad.” “So you do,” the owl said. “Very, very bad.” “What can I do?” Roger Skunk said, and he cried very hard. “The wizard, the wizard,” Jo shouted, and sat right up, and a Little Golden Book spilled from the bed. “Now, Jo. Daddy’s telling the story. Do you want to tell Daddy the story?” “No. You me.” “Then lie down and be sleepy.” Her head relapsed onto the pillow and she said, “Out of your head.” “Well. The owl thought and thought. At last he said, “Why don’t you go see the wizard?” “Daddy?” “What?” “Are magic spells real?” This was a new phase, just this last month, a reality phase. When he told her spiders eat bugs, she turned to her mother and asked, “Do they really?” and when Clare told her God was in the sky and all around them, she turned to her father and insisted, with a sly yet eager smile, “Is He really?” “They’re real in stories,” Jack answered curtly. She had made him miss a beat in the narrative. “The owl said, “Go through the dark woods, under the apple trees, into the swamp, over the crick —” “What’s a crick?” A little river. “Over the crick, and there will be the wizard’s house.” And that’s the way Roger Skunk went, and pretty soon he came to a little white house, and he rapped on the door.”

  • Scraped- drag or pull a hard or sharp implement
  • Enormous- very large in size
  • Eager- keenly expectant or interested.
  • Narrative- a story.
  • Swamp- an area of low-lying, uncultivated ground where water collects; a bog or marsh.
  • Crick- A small river.
  • Rapped- strike (a hard surface) with a series of rapid audible blows, especially in order to attract attention.
  • Relapsed- return to a less active or a worse state.
  • Curtly- rudely brief in speech or abrupt in manner

Suddenly, Jack heard a voice downstairs – of a chair being pulled – and realised he needed to go downstairs to assist his wife in painting the living room, but he had to continue the storey because Jo hadn't slept yet. So Jack went on to say that Roger Skunk was depressed, and as he walked, he came across a tree where he saw the wise owl. The skunk then told the wise owl about his problem, and the owl began to consider how he could assist the little skunk. Then Jo exclaimed excitedly that the wise owl would ask him to go to the wizard because she knew the basic plot of the stories her father used to tell her. Jack became irritated and scolded her before asking her if she wanted to tell the storey on her own. Jo denied, and Jack asked her to lie down quietly and listen to the storey. Jo told Jack to tell the storey in his head. Then Jack told Roger that the owl told him to go see the wizard about his problem. Then Jo cut him off and asked if the wizards' magic spells were real. When Jo asked this question, Jack realised she was entering the reality phase and had begun asking questions about things her parents had told her. He noticed that she was no longer blindly believing her parents and was questioning everything they told her. Jo asked again, and Jack replied that the spells in stories were real. He went on to say that the skunk followed the wise owl's instructions and arrived at a white house, knocking on the door.

Jack rapped on the window sill, and under the covers Jo’s tall figure clenched in an infantile thrill. “And then a tiny little old man came out, with a long white beard and a pointed blue hat, and said, “Eh? Whatzis? Whatcher want? You smell awful.” The wizard’s voice was one of Jack’s own favourite effects; he did it by scrunching up his face and somehow whining through his eyes, which felt for the interval rheumy. He felt being an old man suited him. “I know it,” Roger Skunk said, “and all the little animals run away from me. The enormous wise owl said you could help me.” “Eh? Well, maybe. Come on in. Don’t get too close.” Now, inside, Jo, there were all these magic things, all jumbled together in a big dusty heap, because the wizard did not have any cleaning lady.” “Why?” “Why? Because he was a wizard, and a very old man.” “Will he die?” “No. Wizards don’t die. Well, he rummaged around and found an old stick called a magic wand and asked Roger Skunk what he wanted to smell like. Roger thought and thought and said, “Roses.” “Yes. Good,” Jo said smugly. Jack fixed her with a trance like gaze and chanted in the wizard’s elderly irritable voice: “Abracadabry, hocus-poo, Roger Skunk, how do you do, Roses, boses, pull an ear, Roger Skunk, you never fear: Bingo!”

  • Sill- a shelf or slab of stone, wood, or metal at the foot of a window opening or doorway.
  • Clenched- closed into a tight ball.
  • Infantile- childish.
  • Scrunching- make a loud crunching noise.
  • Whining- the making of a long, high-pitched cry or sound.
  • Rheumy- watery
  • Jumbled- mix up in a confused or untidy way
  • Heap- objects placed haphazardly on top of each other
  • Rummaged- search unsystematically and untidily through something.
  • Smugly- in a way that shows excessive satisfaction or pride in oneself.
  • Trance- a half-conscious state
  • Gaze- look steadily and intently
  • Chanted- say or shout repeatedly in a sing-song tone.

Jack knocked on the window sill to simulate how the skunk knocked on the door, and Jo was overjoyed. Jack went on to say that an old man with a long white beard and a blue pointed hat came. Then Jack made his favourite sound effect and went on to say that the wizard asked Roger what he wanted and that he had a terrible body odour. Then Roger responded that he knew he smelled bad and that all the other animals ran away from him. He also told the wizard that the wise owl had told him that he could assist him. The old man then replied that he might be able to and asked Roger skunk to follow him inside and not get too close. Then Jack describes how the wizard's house was filthy on the inside because he didn't have a cleaning lady, to which Jo asks as to why. He then replied that he didn't need a cleaning lady because he was a very old man who was also a wizard. Then Jo interrupted again, asking if the wizard would die, to which Jack replied that wizards never die. The wizard then began to search for something and pulled out an old stick known as the magic wand. He asked Roger what he wanted to smell like, and he replied, "Roses." Jo was overjoyed that he desired to smell like a rose. Then Jack spoke the magical words in a wizard's voice.

He paused as a rapt expression widened out from his daughter’s nostrils, forcing her eyebrows up and her lower lip down in a wide noiseless grin, an expression inwhich Jack was startled to recognise his wife feigning pleasure at cocktail parties. “And all of a sudden,” he whispered, “the whole inside of the wizard’s house was full of the smell of — roses! ‘Roses!’ Roger Fish cried. And the wizard said, very cranky, “That’ll be seven pennies.” “Daddy.” “What?” “Roger Skunk. You said Roger Fish.” “Yes. Skunk.” “You said Roger Fish. Wasn’t that silly?” “Very silly of your stupid old daddy. Where was I? Well, you know about the pennies.” “Say it.” “O.K. Roger Skunk said, ‘But all I have is four pennies,’ and he began to cry.” Jo made the crying face again, but this time without a trace of sincerity. This annoyed Jack. Downstairs some more furniture rumbled. Clare shouldn’t move heavy things; she was six months pregnant. It would be their third. “So the wizard said, ‘Oh, very well. Go to the end of the lane and turn around three times and look down the magic well and there you will find three pennies. Hurry up.’ So Roger Skunk went to the end of the lane and turned around three times and there in the magic well were three pennies! So he took them back to the wizard and was very happy and ran out into the woods and all the other little animals gathered around him because he smelled so good. And they played tag, baseball, football, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, and pick-up-sticks.” “What’s pick-up-sticks?” “It’s a game you play with sticks.” “Like the wizard’s magic wand?” “Kind of. And they played games and laughed all afternoon and then it began to get dark and they all ran home to their mommies.”

  • Rapt- completely fascinated or absorbed by what one is seeing or hearing.
  • Nostrils- either of two external openings of the nose.
  • Grin- smile broadly.
  • Cranky- bad-tempered; irritable.
  • Rumbled- make a continuous deep sound.

Then he compares his daughter's expression to that of his wife. When she pretended to be at a cocktail party, she made this expression. Then he goes on to say that the entire wizard's house was filled with the fragrance of roses. He accidentally changed the animal to a fish. Jo corrected him, and he said it was really stupid of him to call him a fish instead of a skunk. Just then, Jack became irritated by Jo's expression, and he heard some furniture rumbling downstairs. He realised Clare shouldn't be moving heavy objects because she was 6 months pregnant and they were expecting their third child. The wizard then instructs Roger to walk to the end of the lane and turn around three times, after which he will find three more pennies in the magic well. Then Roger did exactly what he was told and got the extra pennies. He then gave the pennies to the wizard and ran back to the woods, where everyone gathered around him because he smelled so good. Then they all played a variety of games and had a good time. All of the animals ran back to their mothers as it began to get dark.

Jo was starting to fuss with her hands and look out of the window, at the crack of day that showed under the shade. She thought the story was all over. Jack didn’t like women when they took anything for granted; he liked them apprehensive, hanging on his words. “Now, Jo, are you listening?” “Yes.” “Because this is very interesting. Roger Skunk’s mommy said, ‘What’s that awful smell?’ “Wha-at?” “And, Roger Skunk said, ‘It’s me, Mommy. I smell like roses.’ And she said, ‘Who made you smell like that?’ And he said, ‘The wizard,’ and she said, ‘Well, of all the nerve. You come with me and we’re going right back to that very awful wizard.” Jo sat up, her hands dabbling in the air with genuine fright. “But Daddy, then he said about the other little animals run away!” Her hands skittered off, into the underbrush. “All right. He said, ‘But Mommy, all the other little animals run away,’ and she said, ‘I don’t care. You smelled the way a little skunk should have and I’m going to take you right back to that wizard,’ and she took an umbrella and went back with Roger Skunk and hit that wizard right over the head.” “No,” Jo said, and put her hand out to touch his lips, yet even in her agitation did not quite dare to stop the source of truth. Inspiration came to her. “Then the wizard hit her on the head and did not change that little skunk back.” “No,” he said. “The wizard said ‘O.K.’ and Roger Skunk did not smell of roses any more. He smelled very bad again.” “But the other little amum — oh! — amum — ” “Joanne. It’s Daddy’s story. Shall Daddy not tell you any more stories?” Her broad face looked at him through sifted light, astounded.

  • Fuss- to show excessive excitement
  • Apprehensive- fearful that something bad or unpleasant will happen.
  • Awful- very bad or unpleasant.
  • Fright- a sudden intense feeling of fear.
  • Skittered- move lightly and quickly
  • Underbrush- shrubs and small trees
  • Agitation- anxiety or nervous excitement.
  • Astounded- shock or greatly surprise.

Jo had gotten bored with the storey and was now more interested in looking out the window. She thought the storey had come to an end. Jack, on the other hand, disliked women who took things for granted. He preferred women who remained engrossed in his talks. Then he continued the storey, asking Jo to pay attention to what he said. The mother skunk asked as to the source of the foul odour, to which Roger replied, "It's me." He also mentioned that he smelled like roses. Mommie skunk asked Roger who had made him smell like that, to which he replied that it was the wizard.  The mother skunk became angry and ordered that Roger accompany her to the wizard. Roger told his mother that if he smelled bad, all of his friends would run away from him, to which his mother replied that she didn't care and that he smelled exactly like a baby skunk should smell. His mother took out her umbrella and they went to the wizard's house,   When the wizard opened the door and the mommie skunk hit him on the head, . Then Jo began to make up her own storey about how the wizard would have hit the mommie skunk in the back and never changed Roger Skunk back. Her father told her that nothing of the sort had occurred, and that the wizard had returned Roger Skunk to normalcy, despite the fact that he no longer smelled of roses. Little Jo was about to ask another question when Jack stopped her and told her that it was his storey and that if she wanted him to tell her any more stories, she should keep quiet. Jo kept looking at her father, surprised, as she waited for the storey to continue.

“This is what happened, then. Roger .Skunk and his mommy went home and they heard Woo-oo, woooo-oo and it was the choo-choo train bringing Daddy Skunk home from Boston. And they had lima beans, celery, liver, mashed potatoes, and Pie-Oh-My for dessert. And when Roger Skunk was in bed Mommy Skunk came up and hugged him and said he smelled like her little baby skunk again and she loved him very much. And that’s the end of the story.” “But Daddy.” “What?” “Then did the other little animals run away?” “No, because eventually they got used to the way he was and did not mind it at all.”

  • Lima Beans- an edible flat whitish bean.
  • Celery- a cultivated plant of the parsley family
  • Eventually- in the end, finally

When Roger Skunk and his mother were on their way back home, they heard a Woo-ooo, Woo-oo sound as his father returned from Boston. Then they had lima beans, celery, liver, and mashed potatoes for dinner, followed by Pie-Oh-My for dessert. Mom Skunk returned later that night, while Roger Skunk was sleeping. She hugged him and told him that he smelled like her baby skunk again and that she loved him. With this, Jack concluded the storey, to which Jo inquired whether the other animals had run away from Roger Skunk again, to which Jack replied, 'no,' because they had become accustomed to the smell and did not feel the need to flee.

“What’s evenshiladee?” “In a little while.” “That was a stupid mommy.” “It was not,” he said with rare emphasis, and believed, from her expression, that she realised he was defending his own mother to her, or something as odd. “Now I want you to put your big heavy head in the pillow and have a good long nap.” He adjusted the shade so not even a crack of day showed, and tiptoed to the door, in the pretense that she was already asleep. But when he turned, she was crouching on top of the covers and staring at him. “Hey. Get under the covers and fall faaast asleep. Bobby’s asleep.” She stood up and bounced gingerly on the springs. “Daddy.” “What?” “Tomorrow, I want you to tell me the story that that wizard took that magic wand and hit that mommy” — her plump arms chopped forcefully — “right over the head.” “No. That’s not the story. The point is that the little skunk loved his mommy more than he loved all the other little animals and she knew what was right.” “No. Tomorrow you say he hit that mommy.

  • Rare- not occurring very often.
  • Emphasis- special value given to something.
  • Tiptoed- walk quietly
  • Pretense- an attempt to make something that is false, to appear true.
  • Gingerly- in a careful or cautious manner.

When Jack said that eventually everyone started liking Roger skunk, Jo didn't understand the word eventually because it was the first time she heard it. So she asked what 'Evenshiladee' meant, and Jack explained it to her. But Jo thought what Mommie Skunk did was wrong and said what the mother skunk did was stupid, but Jack took it personally and said 'no' because he was relating it to himself and defending his own mother somewhere. Then Jack told Jo that he wanted her to take a long day nap and adjusted the shades so that no light entered the room. He then walked softly to the door, pretending Jo had fallen asleep, but when he turned around, she was staring at him and sitting on top of the covers. He then told her to go to sleep because she was disturbing her sleeping brother. Then she stood up and began softly bouncing on the springs. She asked her father to tell her a storey the next day while jumping on the springs of the bed – that the wizard took her magic stick and hit the mommy, chopping her plump arms. Then Jack told her that this was not what the storey had said. He told her that the storey taught us that the skunk loved his mother more than any other animal in the woods and that his mother knew what was best for him and what wasn't. Then, as he was telling Jo about the storey, she began insisting that the next day he tell her a storey similar to the one she wanted.

Do it.” She kicked her legs up and sat down on the bed with a great heave and complaint of springs, as she had done hundreds of times before, except that this time she did not laugh. “Say it, Daddy.” “Well, we’ll see. Now at least have a rest. Stay on the bed. You’re a good girl.” He closed the door and went downstairs. Clare had spread the newspapers and opened the paint can and, wearing an old shirt of his on top of her maternity smock, was stroking the chair rail with a dipped brush. Above him footsteps vibrated and he called, “Joanne! Shall I come up there and spank you?” The footsteps hesitated. “That was a long story,” Clare said. “The poor kid,” he answered, and with utter weariness watched his wife labour. The woodwork, a cage of moldings and rails and baseboards all around them, was half old tan and half new ivory and he felt caught in an ugly middle position, and though he as well felt his wife’s presence in the cage with him, he did not want to speak with her, work with her, touch her, anything.

  • Heave- produce a sigh.
  • Stroking- move one’s hand with gentle pressure
  • Spank- slap with one’s open hand
  • Weariness- extreme tiredness

Then she began throwing tantrums, as she had many times before, but this time she was not laughing or joking. She was being a bit stubborn. Then Jack told her to be patient and sleep, and he would take care of it the next day. He then asked her to stay on the bed and shut the door behind her. When he went downstairs, he noticed his wife painting the walls. She'd opened the paint can, spread the newspapers, and was dressed in his old shirt over her maternity dress. She was working on the chair rail. Suddenly, he heard footsteps above him and shouted, "Does Joanne want a beating?" The sound of footsteps began to fade. Then Jack's wife told him that he was telling Jo a long storey, to which he replied, "The poor kid," and because he was exhausted, he just sat and watched his wife do all the work. Then he began to notice the woodwork around him and began to relate it to his life. He was looking at it and thinking that, despite the fact that both of them (Jack and Clare) were trapped in a cage-like situation in their marriage, there was no way out. He didn't want to talk to her, nor did he want to speak to or touch her.

About the Author


John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009) was a novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic, and literary critic from the United States. Only one of three writers to have received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once. During his career, Updike published more than twenty novels, a dozen short-story collections, poetry, art and literary criticism, and children's books.