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The Natural

By apl313 Jan 07, 2013 794 Words
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.

Roy falls in love with a beautiful girl named Memo, and even though she never likes him back, Roy does not give up on her. Fifteen years after being shot in the stomach, Roy makes it back up to professional baseball, signs with the New York Knights, and excels in everything from power hitting to errorless fielding; however, Roy now desires the love of the team manager’s niece, Memo. “…[Roy’s] accomplishments were not entirely satisfying to him…He felt he had nothing of value yet to show for what he was accomplishing, and in his dreams he still sped over endless miles of monotonous rail toward something he desperately wanted. Memo, he sighed” (85). Roy constantly tries to impress Memo, but he cannot win her over. She is seen with other men, but avoids Roy. Roy feels helpless, and the reader is no stranger to this feeling. Occasionally, dreams are too big or too hard, and some things cannot be changed. It is usually very frustrating. Roy's struggles prompt the reader to remember those frustrating times when they felt the same.

Hard work is not always rewarded, and when Roy requests a raise for his exceptional performance, the Judge, an owner of the New York Knights, turns him down. After setting numerous records and boosting the Knights up to the top of their division, Roy believes he deserves more than his small starting salary. However, the Judge refused to give him more money and did not commend his efforts and success. “…my cheapskate of a boss has turned me down flat for a raise and I am still his slave for a lousy three thousand bucks” (98). By refusing to boost Roy’s salary, the Judge showed Roy that he would have to continue working hard, even with the doubt of ever receiving more money. Doing a job exceptionally deserves a reward, and normally a promotion or raise is given. The reader empathizes with Roy because many times their hard work went unnoticed. This lack of approbation reduces their desire to continue going above and beyond, knowing not even praise will be awarded. Even their best was not good enough, and they feel as though they have failed.

Novels remind us of not only the things we like, but also what we dislike. Failure is sometimes unexpected, unavoidable, and discouraging. Roy Hobbs faces countless challenges that demoralize him, and the reader can easily relate. All dreams come with the possibility of failure, and many of Roy's misfortunes are the same that they have faced. Only some can relate to Roy’s successes in baseball, but everyone understands the uncomfortable feeling of failure, even if they wish they did not.

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