Bernard Malamud’s The Natural follows Roy Hobbs’ baseball career. Roy's talents give him great success in the game, but they are consistently overshadowed by his failures. He tries hard, but still cannot accomplish many of his goals. Famed author Joyce Carol Oates says that art should arouse emotions and expand sympathies. The novel makes the reader remember their past, and the times when they too were unable to succeed. The reader constantly empathizes with Roy, since failure is a part of life, and the reader cannot resist those times when obstacles stalled, or even ended, the pursuit of their dreams.
Failure can come from nowhere, and when young star Roy Hobbs was just one step away from signing a major league baseball contract, a single moment stopped him. Roy’s agent Sam knows how talented Roy is and brags, “I’m personally taking him to Clarence Mulligan of the Cubs for a tryout. They will probably pay me a few grand for uncovering the coming pitcher of the century” (14-15). Years in semi-professional baseball were finally about to pay off for Roy. To celebrate, he accepted an invitation to see Harriet Bird, a beautiful girl he met on the train to Chicago. Roy liked Harriet, and thought maybe she felt the same, but her request was not out of compassion. She wanted to stop Roy from playing baseball, just as she had done with other promising athletes in the past. As soon as he reached her room, she took out a gun and shot Roy in the stomach, ending his major league dream. Roy worked hard for years; yet Harriet Bird ended it in a single moment. Roy's situation is relatable, even if the reader has no ambition to play professional baseball. All dreams have the potential to end in the same way, by chance and devastating. Nevertheless, people will always have dreams and work hard to reach them. Failure is an experience that everyone must face, and for the reader, Roy’s misfortune reminds the audience of the obstacles that halted the pursuit of their dreams.
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