In our March meeting (thank you to all who attended), we read part IV of “The Natural” by Bernard Malamud.
We discussed whether Roy should leave Memo or try harder to win her trust and respect. We also discussed Roy’s short speech to the crowd on the occasion of “Roy’s Day”. Some thought there is nothing wrong with Roy wanting to be the best in the game, but others thought he should have been more grateful to the fans and to the other players as well as to Pop Fisher.
At our next meeting we will read and discuss section V.
Roy thinking they hit someone while Memo is driving reminded me of a similar scene in “Bonfire of the Vanities”:
Here’s a summary of this section:
The fans of the Knights hold “Roy’s Day” in his honour, as it has leaked out to the press that Roy’s salary is meager and that the Judge has refused to give him a raise. The fans bring thousands of presents to Roy, some quite lavish, including televisions, lifetime passes to the Paramount Theater, and even a Mercedes-Benz. Roy addresses the crowd, thanking them and saying that he will do his best to be “the greatest there ever was in the game.” He then drives the Benz triumphantly around the field, stopping at Memo’s box and asking her for a date after the game.
The game goes well, and afterward Roy and Memo head toward the ocean. They eat in uncomfortable silence; Roy is troubled by Memo’s continued indifference. They stop by a stream to go swimming, but a sign tells them the water is polluted. As they stand looking at the water, Memo recalls Bump, and Roy demands to know what Bump had that he does not. Memo responds by listing a number of things, absentmindedly reminiscing about her times with Bump. Roy believes that Memo is seeing her memories of Bump through rose-coloured glasses, and that Bump was not nearly as good a boyfriend as she remembers him.
Roy changes the subject. Memo tells Roy that her father left her family at a young age, and that she then went to Hollywood, where she won a beauty contest. She was told, however, that she could not act, and she was sent home. Memo says that after Bump, she realized she could not be happy anymore. She asks Roy to talk about his past, but he refuses to, saying only that he has suffered. He now thinks only of becoming the champ and “having what goes with it.”
He tries to kiss and grope Memo, but she resists him, saying that her breast is “sick.” They get in the car and she drives, faster and faster in the night without the lights on. Roy thinks he sees a young boy coming out of the woods and he quickly tells Memo to turn on the lights, hearing a thump as she does so. Memo insists it was a log, but Roy is sure they hit the boy. Roy makes her pull over, but there is no blood on the bumper.
Roy then drives, but he accidentally drives the car off into a ditch. He and Memo are relatively unhurt; Memo’s sick breast is bruised while Roy receives a black eye. Upon returning to the hotel, Pop yells at Roy for injuring himself and for getting no sleep before an important game. Pop also warns Roy to stay away from Memo; Pop says that she is unlucky for other people. Roy assures Pop that he will change Memo’s luck as well as Pop’s, and get him the pennant. Before Roy goes to bed, Max Mercy tries to get a picture of his black eye, but Roy escapes him.