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The Natural. Circles and Sin : America Strikes Out. I. Roy Hobbs as tragic, not heroic. True, mythical heroes cannot exist in the corrupt, modern world. Like tragic heroes, Roy has tragic flaws Arrogance Greed Lust. Combine to cause his downfall. II. The Natural and King Arthur.

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the natural

The Natural

Circles and Sin: America Strikes Out

i roy hobbs as tragic not heroic
I. Roy Hobbs as tragic, not heroic
  • True, mythical heroes cannot exist in the corrupt, modern world.
  • Like tragic heroes, Roy has tragic flaws
    • Arrogance
    • Greed
    • Lust

Combine to cause his downfall.

ii the natural and king arthur
II. The Natural and King Arthur
  • Blatant and intentional similarities to Arthurian myth
    • Fisher King = Pop Fisher
    • Knights of Round Table = Knights
    • Excalibur = Wonderboy
    • Grail = Championship
  • Key Difference: There is no Galahad
    • Roy is imperfect, impure
    • No “knight” is worthy of the grail
  • Shattering of Wonderboy is shattering of myth that heroes can exist.
iii circle imagery
III. Circle Imagery
  • Roy’s assertion: “He had never really liked the sight of a circle. They got you nowwhere but back to the place you were to begin with” (Malamud 163).
  • Many characters’ lives are cyclical – they end where they began
    • Roy
    • Iris
    • Pop
  • Baseball diamond as a symbol: baseball is a game where the goal is to return to “home,” where you started. In short – you literally get nowhere by succeeding.
  • Progression of heroes also cyclical – always a new hero to replace the old:

Whammer Roy Youngberry

iv american dream
IV. American Dream
  • Typical of Modernist literature, The Natural emphasizes the struggle of individualism
  • Society is full of corruption, keeps men from achieving their individual dreams.
  • Important to understanding ending: only characters who “advance” are those who are totally corrupt; the bad guys win.
the movie
The Movie

“The storybook ending is so preposterous you don't know whether to cheer or jeer.”

Released in 1984, nominated for 4 Academy Awards:

Here's the last 7 minutes of the movie

v the ending
V. The Ending
  • In order for Malamud to prove his point about heroes, Roy must strike out.
  • His strikeout symbolizes the fruitlessness of hope in a corrupt, modern world.
  • Movie, by having Roy succeed, completely ruins Malamud’s point in just five minutes; it affirms that heroes can exist.
vi final critical points
VI. Final Critical Points
  • Malamud presents women as corrupting, lust as literally deadly.
  • Malamud uses names to signify importance
    • Youngberry (New, young version of Roy)
    • Iris Lemon (Fruitful, life-giving)
    • Bump Bailey (a “bump” on Roy’s road to glory)
    • Memo (memo, short for memorandum, latin for “to call to mind” or “remember” – she is nothing more than a new version of Harriet Bird)
  • The past warps the present – it is nearly impossible to escape one’s past.