John Updike

A Marxist, Feminist, and Literary Theory Interpetation

Our thoughts on John Updike's poems
Poems by John Updike
Exploring John Updike
Critics Viewpoint On John Updike
Giving Credit When Credit Is Due
Comparison of John's poem and TOOL's song.
John Updike and Modern Culture
Take a Quiz and become a John Updike addict.

Marxist Theory
On the Road
Those dutiful dogtrots down airport corridors
while gnawing at a Dunkin' Donuts cruller,
those hotel rooms where the TV remote
waits by the bed like a suicide pistol,
those hours in the air amid white shirts
whose wearers sleep-read through thick staid thrillers,
those breakfast buffets in prairie Marriotts—
such venues of transit grow dearer than home.

The tricycle in the hall, the wife's hasty kiss,
the dripping faucet and uncut lawn—this is life?
No, vita thrives via the road, in the laptop
whose silky screen shimmers like a dark queen's mirror,
in the polished shoe that signifies killer intent,
and in the solitary mission, a bumpy glide
down through the cloud cover to a single runway
at whose end a man just like you guards the Grail.
Shaun- Just by the words listed in this poem you can find that it is telling a tale of a poor setting espcially the stanza stating, "the tv remote waits by the bed like a suicide pistol" showing that thats all this person or family does in there time and its waisting their life away, The uncut lawn is a good indecation as well because if it were wealthy then its pretty certain that it would be cut. It is also stating that the life of a poor man needs guards for their Grail, where what does the rich man need that is so dear to themselves....Money? is that really THAT valuable?
Feminist Theory


 (First stanza)

(Upon Receiving a Solicitation for Membership in The Swingers Life Club)


The Venus de Milo didn’t have one, at least no pussy

that left its shadow in the marble, but Botticelli’s Venus,

though we cannot see it for her sea-anemone hand,

did, no doubt-an amber-furred dear mouth we would kiss

could we enter the Arcadian plane of the painting.

We must assimilate cunts to our creed of beauty.

September Morn held her thighs tight shut, and the dolls

we grew up undressing had nothing much there, not even


but the beauties we must learn to worship now all

have spread legs, splayed in bedspreaded motel beds,

and the snowflakes that burst forth are no two alike:

convolute snapdragons, portal and tears

and T-bones of hair, lips lurid as slices of salmon,

whirlpooly wisps more ticklish than skin, black brooms

a witch could ride cackling through the spatter of stars,

assholes a-stare like monocles tiny as dimes.

Charlene- The name of the poem alone strikes up controversy.  John Updike talks about the female organ.  In each stanza there is sexual content from a man’s point of view about women.  It show’s that women are sexual objects and not as an individual.  John Updike writes “A woman once upon a bed with me, to kiss my soul went down but in addition thrust” clearly states that he only wants sex from her, he does not want a meaningful relationship from this woman.

Literary Theory
Ex-Basketball Player
(1st and 2nd stanza)
Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage
Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.

Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps—
Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes
An E and O. And one is squat, without
A head at all—more of a football type.
Vong- This poem is very interesting because the title refers to someone who could have been something.  The poem describes the "ex-basketball player" as being tall and very talented in playing basketball.  Then the poem goes on to say that "he never learned a trade".  This goes on to show the conception of the player is not true.  Just because he is tall and plays good does not mean he wants to be a basketball player.  Instead he spend his days "checking oil and changing flats.