Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

by

John Updike

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Roger Skunk Character Analysis

The protagonist of the story Jack tells Jo, Roger Skunk is in many ways a stand-in for Jack. Bullied for his foul skunk smell much like Jack was bullied as a child, Roger wants nothing more than to fit in and play with the other animals. However, he ultimately acquiesces to his mother’s wishes and accepts that his smell cannot be changed because it is part of who he is. Roger’s journey proves challenging and polarizing to Jack and Jo because both people project a different part of themselves onto him. At four-years-old, Jo wants nothing more than to fit in among her peers, and is therefore horrified when Jack says that Roger’s mother makes Roger return to his former smell (which had made the other animals dislike him). For Jack on the other hand, Roger’s willingness to return to his original smell represents his sense of duty toward his family and mirrors Jack’s responsibilities to his own family, which he accepts even when resents or feels constrained by them. While Jack perhaps intends Roger’s story to teach Jo about this kind of familial duty, she is still too young to grasp the unpleasant concept of compromise and sacrifice, and is heartbroken that Roger is not able to smell the way he wants, showing her innocent desire for happiness without compromise.
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Roger Skunk Character Timeline in Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

The timeline below shows where the character Roger Skunk 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
...Jo is losing interest. The stories always follow a basic pattern, concerning an animal named Roger who has a problem. Roger goes to the wise owl, who in turn sends him... (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 to assume that she must be talking about skunks in... (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 the Owl for advice.... (full context)
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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Jack continues the story. He explains that Roger goes to the owl and asks him for advice, since all of the other animals... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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Jack concedes to Jo, telling her that Roger does indeed pay a visit to the wizard. Jo is still unsatisfied, and she asks... (full context)
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
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Jack continues the story, explaining that Roger Skunk journeyed through the woods to visit the wizard’s house. Jack does an impression of... (full context)
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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Roger explains to the wizard that all the other animals run away from him because he... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Jack explains that Roger decided he wanted to smell like roses and that the wizard did a spell to... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
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Jack explains that the wizard asks Roger for four pennies as payment for the spell. However, Jack misspeaks and says “Roger Fish”... (full context)
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Jack attempts to speed the story up. He explains that Roger returned to his friends who were now happy to play with him since he smelled... (full context)
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
...Jo’s attention, Jack throws a wrench in his classic story. Jack tells Jo that when Roger gets home to his mother, she is repulsed by his scent and demands that he... (full context)
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...not accept this change in the story. She demands that the wizard refuse to change Roger back and instead hit his mother on the head himself. Sensing her agitation, Jack explains... (full context)
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Jo senses a flaw in Jack’s story: if Roger smells like a skunk again then he will continue to make the other animals run... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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Jo says, “That was a stupid mommy” for making Roger change his scent back. With “rare emphasis,” surprising even himself, Jack asserts that it was... (full context)
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Growing Up and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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...and explains that she wants a story the next day in which the wizard hits Roger’s mother on the head instead of the other way around. Unsettled, Jack explains that the... (full context)
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...a particularly long story. Jack responds, “The poor kid.” Jack is too drained from telling Roger’s story to help paint, and instead he sits down heavily and watches his wife at... (full context)