Title: Rabbit

Author: John Updike

Published: 1960

Genre: Fiction, Drama

Page Length: 256 pages


Rabbit is a captivating novel written by John Updike in 1960. This insightful piece of fiction takes readers on a journey through the life of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a former high school basketball star living an ordinary life in the fictional town of Brewer, Pennsylvania. Emphasizing the struggles and choices of its protagonist, the novel delves into themes of identity, societal conformity, and the pursuit of happiness.

Plot Summary:

Part One: Spring

In the first part, we are introduced to Rabbit Angstrom, a 26-year-old family man working a dead-end job at a car dealership. Rabbit becomes disillusioned with his domestic life, feeling trapped by his marriage to Janice and fatherhood. Seeking an escape, Rabbit embarks on a reckless affair with Ruth Leonard, a sensuous salesgirl, which further complicates his already troubled existence.

Part Two: Summer

The second part opens with Rabbit leaving his wife and son, Nelson, to be with Ruth, who is now pregnant with his child. Rabbit’s decision to abandon his family reflects his constant struggle to find fulfillment and meaning in his life. However, he soon realizes that his new life brings its own set of challenges and responsibilities, leading him to question whether he has made the right choices.

Part Three: Fall

As the seasons change, Rabbit finds himself yearning to return to his former life. Ruth has given birth to their daughter, Rebecca, and the weight of fatherhood weighs heavily on Rabbit. He reconnects with his high school basketball coach, Marty Tothero, who urges him to play in an upcoming game against his old team. The game symbolizes Rabbit’s desire to recapture his former glory, but also highlights his fear of the passage of time.

Part Four: Winter

In the final part of the novel, Rabbit’s life takes a tragic turn. Ruth unexpectedly dies during childbirth, leaving Rabbit devastated and guilt-ridden. With nothing left to cling to, Rabbit returns to his hometown, Brewer, where he attempts to reconcile with his wife and son. However, his homecoming is marked by a tragic event, as Rabbit’s son drowns in a river while the family is on a trip. Overwhelmed by grief and regret, Rabbit starts running aimlessly, seeking redemption and escape from the pain that consumes him.


1. Identity and Alienation: Rabbit Angstrom finds himself trapped between various identities, struggling to define who he truly is. Despite his attempts to escape the constraints of family and societal expectations, Rabbit ultimately remains unsatisfied and disconnected. This theme resonates with readers navigating their own journey of self-discovery and the challenges of conforming to societal norms.

2. Life’s Disappointments: Rabbit’s experiences highlight the disappointments and struggles that often accompany the pursuit of happiness. His choices, fueled by an insatiable desire for something more, lead him down a path of regret and pain. Through Rabbit’s story, readers gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and consequences of our choices and how they shape our lives.

3. Passage of Time: Time plays a significant role in Rabbit’s life, with the changing seasons symbolizing the fleeting nature of youth and the inevitability of aging. The novel explores how the irrevocable passage of time affects our dreams, desires, and perceptions of ourselves.


John Updike’s Rabbit stands as a timeless work of literature that delves into the complexities of the human experience. Through Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom’s journey, readers are confronted with themes of identity, societal conformity, and the pursuit of happiness. This powerful story challenges us to reflect on our own choices and the consequences they may bring. Rabbit’s tale serves as a poignant reminder of the fragile nature of life and the importance of finding meaning and contentment in our own unique paths.