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Should Wizard Hit Mommy – John Updike

Should Wizard Hit Mommy by John Updike is one the best psychological stories that deals with a male chauvinist man’s struggles to find his own place in the family. Jack, that is he. He has long ago idealized his mother as the best mother and believes that he is a good son and a good father. On the other side Jack is a failure. To recreate his childhood and his mother’s memories, Jack tells his daughter Joe the same bedtime story – the story of Roger and his mother – with minor modifications. Why is he not able to tell a new story? Does the child enjoy it?

Jack and Jo – The Story Begins

Jack was the father of two little kids – Jo (4) and Bobby (1). His wife Clare was six months pregnant. It will be their third child. When it came to telling Jo a bedtime story, you could always see Jack in the bed with the little girl of four years telling stories. But the problem was, Jack’s stories were the exact copies of his one and only story – the story of Roger, a creature that suffered loneliness in a forest because it had certain disabilities.

Every new story that Jack told Jo was a variation of the base story and mostly the difference in the story was Roger’s being a cat, chipmunk, mouse, fish, etc. along with the deformity or illness it suffered. Today Roger could be a fish suffering from blindness, tomorrow a rat suffering from headache and another day a monkey that is lame. Well, because Roger was disabled, he could not play with his friends and he was left alone. Seeing him cry, a wise owl advises him to meet a wizard who lived in the neighborhood for a little magical help. There he goes to the wizard, evokes pity in the old wizard’s mind and gets rid of his ailment by paying a few pennies. On his return, Roger is accepted by his friends and soon he becomes a sweetheart for all.

You may later wonder why Jack didn’t allow his wife Clare tell stories! Well, Jack told Jo this story – the story of Roger, a habit that the father and daughter had developed when she was two years.

Meaning

  • Rummaged – Searched.
Questions & Answers
  1. Why was story telling more tiresome on Saturdays?
    On Saturdays Jo didn’t feel sleepy. It was probably because the child enjoyed her father’s company rather than sleeping. Besides, Jo was a four year old girl-child and she was very curious about everything.
  2. Why was Roger sad?
    Roger was sad because he was not like his friends. He was either lame or blind, deaf or numb. Due to his disability, his friends didn’t allow him to play with them. He was bored of his mother’s company all the time.
  3. What did the wise owl advise Roger to do?
    The wise owl advised Roger to go to the wizard who lived alone in a small house. The wizard could cure Roger’s deformity.
  4. What were Jo’s initial response to the story?
    Jo liked the new story of Roger skunk although it was a slight variation from the previous stories. She liked Roger’s deformity of smelling bad as an unexpected twist. She squeezed her little body as a sign of concentration. She got so much involved in the story that Jo shed a few drops of tears over Roger’s predicaments. Besides sympathizing with the hapless creature, she wanted to know if Roger would meet the wizard who used to offer him a solution.

Next – Roger Skunk

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