The novel by John Updike “Centaur”

“If an adult completely forgets the child in himself,

It will turn into a machine for eating,

Pleasure, obtaining money. “

D. Updike

Will we remember childhood as clearly as it is now? What moments will be remembered for life, and which will disappear forever from our memory? Maybe, only in years I can understand how time changes the degree of importance of what is happening. About this I think, when I read the book D. Updike “Centaur”.

In the novel, the artist describes his boyish world. Peter Caldwell tries to explain to his beloved what he is. The young man remembers three days of his childhood. The main hero of the memories is his father, natural science teacher George Caldwell. As in “War and Peace” L. Tolstoy talks about the years of Decembrist youth in order to explain why these people came to the Senate Square, and D. Updike shows us the origins of the hero’s life.

In these memoirs, the truth and fiction are intricately intertwined, yesterday and today, the action from an absolutely real school moves to the green hills of Olympus, which becomes the town of Olinger. It seems to me that in the corridors of any school there lives our wild fantasy, our dreams, which the author emphasizes.

George Caldwell is wounded by an arrow released by a student. He walks down the corridor, the arrow scraches on the floor, claws clatter – and here is the wise Chiron, the teacher of Achilles, Jason, Prometheus. He goes to Hephaestus to help him get rid of the arrow. Fiction? But the pain is real! The humiliation that he endures from his disciples is real.

But Caldwell is a wonderful teacher. He knows his subject, can brightly and interestingly expound it, is full of kindness to children, he remembers the child in himself. Peter is pleased to hear the approving testimonies of the senior boys about him, even before Zimmerman, the son defends his father. And he always catches himself in a sense of shame. Teenagers always think that parents are not far off, ridiculous, they do everything wrong, they say not that.

George is ridiculous in this stupid knitted hat, always ill-dressed. Peter is annoyed that his father picks up a tramp on the winter road, admires him, complains of his own imperfection, makes a three-mile detour for him, is late for school. The tramp not only does not thank George, but also steals the gloves donated by Peter. In response to his son’s caustic remark, he says: “So, they need... him more.” Senior Caldwell tries to understand everyone, he is trusting, because he is always sincere. And Peter almost bursts with anger: why does he hurry to reveal his soul to everyone on the cross?

The conversations of George Caldwell with the students are so unusual! He speaks absolutely sincerely, agrees with their point of view, justifies their actions, and calls his own activity meaningless. “Do not worry, Peter, do not worry about the fact that he recognized your skin, he will forget, for whom, it’s not for the teacher to know: people forget that they are not told… No trace remains in the minds of these guys.”

Here is the conversation with Deifendorf. Peter seems that the guy looks at him mockingly, despises him for his weak character. The father confesses his dislike for the student. And 14 years later, when he met Deifendorf in his hometown, Pete learns that he has become a teacher. And that conversation seems to the former pupil to be quite different: “Pete, I often remember that your father talked about calling a teacher.” It’s not easy, but from nothing in the world you do not get such satisfaction. ” And then you understand what the author is trying to tell us: George Caldwell was vain about his useless life.

Caldwell was not happy in his profession, was tormented by the stupidity of his students, wildly feared Thunderer Zeus – the director of the school Zimmerman. At home, he also does not know rest. The house is uncomfortable, the wind blows in it, the warmth of human relations is not felt. And yet it is understandable: George loves his son and sacrifices his happiness for his future. The victim is not in vain. Peter will bring joy to people.

The heroes of the novel Updike are tormented, doubted, they think a lot about the meaning of life. This is normal, because the more stupid a person is, the more he is inclined to elevate himself and to belittle others. The main question that the father of George, George himself, and Peter all the time ask in the novel: what does a person live for? Why is it so arranged that a person lives, accumulates experience, becomes wiser. And when he is already close to comprehending the meaning of life, he dies.

It seems to me that Updike wanted us to understand: we must work, look for ourselves, doubt, receive cuffs, be happy and unhappy, that is, live. The meaning of life in it itself is.


The novel by John Updike “Centaur”