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The next night a snow storm sets in during a basketball game, and the repaired Buick cannot get them all the way home.They walk the rest of the way through the snow and find out that the doctor has called—George does not have cancer.Nearly thirty, Peter Caldwell, the artist-protagonist, is seeking to recover from his past some insight or understanding that might clarify and rejuvenate his artistic vocation.
On a mythic level, the father is depicted as Chiron the centaur, part man and part stallion, who serves as mentor to youthful Greek heroes. Schiff provides commentary on works that have largely been ignored by the public as well as books that have received little critical attention. Using the principles of Jacques Lacan, Sethuraman examines the Oedipal motivations of the main characters, who seem to be attracted to death wishes. A revealing portrait of Updike’s background and personality; his views on life, sex, politics, and religion; and his evolution as a writer.
Chiron’s life is sacrificial—he suffers for his charges, just as Peter’s father suffered for (and often from) his students. The conflict between George, the father, and Peter, the son, show that both have failed to incorporate the Other into their personalities.
The purpose of the actual presence of the mythological figures was to expand the significance of Peter Caldwell’s nostalgia and to counterpoint an ideal with a drab level of reality.
The story is told by Peter Caldwell, who describes himself as a mediocre abstract expressionist painter.
(The entire section is 431 words.) draws heavily upon Updike’s experiences growing up in Shillington, Pennsylvania, and pays homage to his father.
In many ways, the novel is Updike’s most complex work, involving an interweaving of the myth of Chiron the centaur with the story of an adolescent boy and his father in the winter of 1947.
Peter tells of his self-conscious adolescence, growing up an only child, living on a farm with his parents and Pop Kramer, his grandfather.
His father is the high school biology teacher and swim coach, and his acts of compassion and charity embarrass the boy. In this readable, up-to-date overview, Schiff endeavors to understand Updike’s entire body of work, putting individual works in context for the reader. A collection of interviews given by Updike between 19.
In January of 1947, George fears he may have cancer and goes after school for X rays.
He and Peter then drive to a swim meet in a nearby town; their 1936 Buick breaks down, forcing them to spend the night.