Publication Date

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Rosemary Johnsen, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christopher T. White, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Margaret Nugent, D.A.


This thesis is a scholarly examination of John Updike’s first two novels of the Rabbit saga: Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux. The discussion is centered on the cultural artifacts and geographic spaces that populate the novels and how they are a reflection of popular cultural and contemporary sociological, economic, and political climates. These items are also closely considered with respect to their rhetorical significance and how Updike makes use of rhetorical spaces to influence his readers. What may seem like ordinary places are, through Updike’s writing, imbued with rhetorical significance that sheds light on his contemporary culture and that of his readers. Updike’s writing over the span of two decades readers provides readers an opportunity to experience culture of two important but seemingly antipodal decades: the 1950s and 60s. Furthermore, by choosing characters that reflect “Middle America” for the first novel and by then integrating characters from the fringes of society in the second novel, Updike shows that he is keenly aware of his changing society.