Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

by

John Updike

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Jack and Clare’s four-year-old daughter, Jo is a growing girl. She is growing taller by the day, has begun to contradict things her parents tell her, and (to Jack’s great frustration) no longer falls asleep at nap time. All of these traits worry and upset Jack because he realizes he will soon have another woman in his life contradicting him the way his wife Clare does. Indeed, Jo is intent on exercising her opinions and having her ideas heard, even at a young age. With respect to the story of Roger Skunk, Jo does not agree with the ending that her father proposes. As a young child, Jo relates to Roger’s desire to be accepted by his peers, and she does not understand why Roger’s mother would force him to return to his original scent when it made the other little animals run away. While Jack perceives Roger’s sacrifice of his new sweet smell to be a positive lesson about duty and obligation to one’s family, Jo is too young to understand the concept of sacrifice, and therefore believes Roger’s mother to be the villain of the story who deserves punishment. In addition, Jo’s suggestion that the wizard should hit Roger’s mother for her transgression suggests that Jo has picked up on the unhappy (and potentially violent) nature of her parents’ marriage. Unbeknownst to her, her parents’ dissatisfaction is coloring all aspects of her life—even something as seemingly innocuous as a bedtime story.

Jo Quotes in Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

The Should Wizard Hit Mommy? quotes below are all either spoken by Jo or refer to Jo. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Should Wizard Hit Mommy? published in 1962.
“Should Wizard Hit Mommy?” Quotes

The little girl (not so little anymore; the bumps her feet made under the covers were halfway down the bed, their big double bed that they let her be in for naps and when she was sick) had at last arranged herself, and from the way her fat face deep in the pillow shone in the sunlight sifting through the drawn shades, it did not seem fantastic that something magic would occur, and she would take her nap like an infant of two.

Related Characters: Jack, Jo
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Sitting on the bed beside her, Jack felt the covers tug as her legs switched tensely. He was pleased with this moment—he was telling her something true, something she must know—and had no wish to hurry on. But downstairs a chair scraped, and he realized he must get down to help Clare paint the living room woodwork.

Related Characters: Jack, Jo, Clare
Related Symbols: The House
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

“Are magic spells real?” This was a new phase, just this last month, a reality phase. When he told her spiders eat bugs, she turned to her mother and asked, “Do they really? and when Clare told her God was in the sky and all around them, she turned to her father, and insisted, with a sly yet eager smile, “Is He really?”

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Jack, The Wizard
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

The wizard's voice was one of Jack's own favorite effects; he did it by scrunching up his face and somehow whining through his eyes, which felt for the interval rheumy. He felt being an old man suited him.

Related Characters: Jack, Jo, The Wizard
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

He paused as a rapt expression widened out from his daughter's nostrils, forcing her eyebrows up and her lower lip down in a wide noiseless grin, an expression in which Jack was startled to recognize his wife feigning pleasure at cocktail parties.

Related Characters: Jack, Jo
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

“No,” Jo said, and put her hand out to touch his lips, yet even in her agitation did not quite dare to stop the source of truth.

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Jack
Related Symbols: Roger’s Smell
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

“That was a stupid mommy.”

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Roger’s Mother (speaker)
Related Symbols: Roger’s Smell
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

“Tomorrow, I want you to tell me the story that that wizard took that magic wand and hit that mommy”—her plump arms chopped fiercely—“right over the head.”

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Jack
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Should Wizard Hit Mommy? LitChart as a printable PDF.
Should Wizard Hit Mommy? PDF

Jo Character Timeline in Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

The timeline below shows where the character Jo appears in Should Wizard Hit Mommy?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“Should Wizard Hit Mommy?”
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
Every evening and before her Saturday naps, Jack tells his daughter Jo a bedtime story. The ritual has been going on since Jo was two, and now... (full context)
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...of the story time ritual because he has run out of ideas for stories and Jo never falls asleep in naps anymore. Indeed, Jo is growing taller by the day and... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
Jo explains that she wants the story to be about Roger Skunk today, which leads Jack... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
Jo is upset over Roger Skunk’s problem, and she begs Jack (and Roger) to go see... (full context)
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
...the other animals run away from him because of his smell. Before Jack can continue, Jo interjects that Roger should go see the wizard. Jack scolds Jo for interrupting, and asks... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
Jack concedes to Jo, telling her that Roger does indeed pay a visit to the wizard. Jo is still... (full context)
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
...impression of the old wizard, which is his favorite part of the story. This makes Jo very happy, as well. (full context)
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
...man and does not have a cleaning lady. Upon hearing that the wizard is old, Jo asks if he is going to die. Jack explains that wizards don’t die. (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
...the wizard did a spell to make it possible. When he recites the spell for Jo, Jack notices that her expression of delight reminds him surprisingly of his wife’s expression when... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
...was dark and then went home to their mothers. At this point, Jack notices that Jo is no longer listening to him, but fidgeting and looking out the window as if... (full context)
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
In an effort to regain Jo’s attention, Jack throws a wrench in his classic story. Jack tells Jo that when Roger... (full context)
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Jo does not accept this change in the story. She demands that the wizard refuse to... (full context)
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Jo senses a flaw in Jack’s story: if Roger smells like a skunk again then he... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
Jo says, “That was a stupid mommy” for making Roger change his scent back. With “rare... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
Before Jack can leave, Jo stops him and explains that she wants a story the next day in which the... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Jack does not give Jo a definitive answer, and he goes downstairs to finally help Clare with the furniture. She... (full context)