Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

by

John Updike

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The House Symbol Icon

Jack’s story is punctuated repeatedly with the sound of his wife, Clare moving furniture as she repaints the living room downstairs. No matter how much Jack attempts to prolong and expand his story, the sound reminds him that he should be downstairs helping his wife work. At the very end of the story, Jack joins Clare in the living room, where, looking at the wooden molding all around them, he feels as though he were in a cage. In this way, everything about the home he lives in—from the ornamental details of the architecture right down to the furniture and the living room’s fresh coat of paint—symbolize how stale and constrictive his life has become. When Jack looks at his home, he sees only the obligations, chores and marriage that are keeping him tied down. Clare is repainting the living room to prepare for the arrival of the couple’s third child, so in addition to representing a physical chore that needs completing, the sound of moving furniture that makes up the story’s background “soundtrack” represents the expansion of Jack’s family and the new era of his life that is dawning, whether or not he is ready for it. Therefore, when Jack finally finishes telling Jo her story and comes downstairs to see Clare repainting, he is no longer able to mask feelings of resentment, depression and isolation towards his wife and the life that they are living. The house itself symbolizes the ways in which he feels “caged” by his life.

The House Quotes in Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

The Should Wizard Hit Mommy? quotes below all refer to the symbol of The House. 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

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:

The woodwork, a cage of moldings and rails and baseboards all around them, was half old tan and half new ivory and he felt caught in an ugly middle position, and though he as well felt his wife's presence in the cage with him, he did not want to speak with her, work with her, touch her, anything.

Related Characters: Jack, Clare
Related Symbols: The House
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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The House Symbol Timeline in Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

The timeline below shows where the symbol The House 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
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
...so anxious and he wants to build the suspense, but he hears the sound of furniture moving downstairs and remembers that he is supposed to be helping his wife, Clare, repaint... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Control Theme Icon
...he is telling the story for his daughter’s benefit. Downstairs, Jack hears Clare moving more furniture. He notes that she should not be moving heavy things, as she is six months... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
...give Jo a definitive answer, and he goes downstairs to finally help Clare with the furniture. She is halfway through changing the paint color in the living room. When she notices... (full context)
Marriage, Family, and Misogyny Theme Icon
Duty, Conformity, and Fitting In  Theme Icon
...he himself feels equally caught in a sort of limbo. Jack explains that the house’s woodwork—“moldings and rails an baseboards”—feels like a cage surrounding him, and that although he knows Clare... (full context)