Of The Farm

"My wife is a field."

Of the Farm

Joey Robinson, the thirty-five year-old narrator of Of the Farm ( 1965), is Peter Caldwell with a different name.Like the narrator of The Centaur, he momentarily exchanges the distraction of the big city for the enchantment of words and, despite an appalling weakness of character, successfully shows himself to be an artist capable of resurrecting from his past the personality of an extraordinary parent.One can even argue that Mrs. Robinson brings the artist in Joey to life, rather than the opposite, for the complexity of her character and the confusion of Joey's feelings for her, now that he is an adult, urge him to heights of creativity that he might have avoided had she not been a formidable parent.Surely Peter Caldwell experiences a similar inspiration when he puts aside his second-rate paintings to write a first-rate novel about his father.

Although his own father is dead, Joey's memories of him indicate that the myth of the centaur reverberates in this tale too.Even the speech rhythms of George Robinson echo those of George Caldwell: "Whereas my father, who hated to have his picture taken (for thirty years the yearbooks of the high school where he taught had printed the same unflattering photograph of him), was nowhere in sight, which gave his absence vitality.I could see him shying out of camera range, saying, 'Keep my ugly mug out of it.' " 1 Recalling the father's energy and the mother's presence, Joey becomes a kind of Adam figure as he tells his story, naming the highlights of his past, longing to give life to his mother's fields and his wife's body, redeeming his failures through the artistic control of language.Although trying to break free of the spell of the farm, he is keenly aware of the cyclical nature associated with all gardens of life, from the process of the seasons through Peggy's menstrual flow and Mrs. Robin

-121-

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John Updike's Novels
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • John Updike's Novels *
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Preface ix
  • Created Landscapes - The Poorhouse Fair (1959) the Coup (1978) *
  • The Poorhouse Fair *
  • The Coup 28
  • Why Rabbit Should Keep on Running - Rabbit, Run (1960) Rabbit Redux (1971) Rabbit Is Rich (1981) *
  • Rabbit, Run *
  • Rabbit Redux 64
  • Rabbit Is Rich 84
  • Home - The Centaur (1963) of the Farm (1965) 100
  • The Centaur *
  • Of the Farm 121
  • Faltering toward Divorce - Couples (1968) a Month of Sundays (1975) Marry Me: a Romance (1976) 140
  • Couples *
  • A Month of Sundays 163
  • Marry Me: A Romance 184
  • Bech: A Conclusion - Bech: a Book 200
  • Bech: A Book *
  • Selected Checklist of John Updike's Novels 212
  • Index 217
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