The Centaur by John Updike

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In John Updike’s novel, The Centaur, Updike shows an amount of examples of character through everyday incidents. The examples of character are shown by the main character George Caldwell. The main character runs into a few problems concerning his health and wealth.


The story of George Caldwell, the centaur, begins in his classroom after one of his students had shot a metal arrow into his leg. After having been humiliated, he steps out as the pain progresses. He shows up at Al Hummel’s garage asking for his assistance. The situation took a long, painful hour of scorching and pulling the arrow out.


On his way back to his classroom he encounters the goddess of love, Venus. She is not there to condemn him, or chat, but to ask the centaur to pleasure her, since men no longer fill her needs. George disapproves for he is married, but the goddess takes it upon herself to break his will. In this situation the goddess gets her way and leaves the centaur in shock.


Later, George leaves the school with his son, Peter to meet the town doctor Doc Appleton. Peter is asked to stay behind while the doctor examines George for what is causing him great pain, besides the arrow wound. After meeting his friends in a café, he talks about how his father worries him because of his age and the pains that he feels. Once at the doctor’s office both peter and George are disappointed that the doctor does not even know what is wrong with George. Is George really dying or is the pain from years of struggle?


In my opinion I liked the book because a different characteristic is shown in every small situation. For example, George was strong when he got shot with an arrow, he was trying to be loyal to his wife when even though Venus overpowered him, and caring when he was telling Peter he will be alight. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys mythology and everyday events into one book.





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