Everyone loves the story of the hero. The person who no one believed in. The person that persevered through all the obstacles to make his dreams come true and on his/her journey to the top, become loved and revered by many. In a book I recently finished, I thought I was being promised this, but towards the end it took a more realistic turn. It went from a story of a pure and natural being, to a corruptible human.
The Natural by Bernard Malamud is the story of a man named Roy Hobbs, who dreams of playing baseball in the Majors (and breaking every record with his unnatural abilities to play every position extremely well). The story opens up when he’s about 25, and on his way to a Chicago Cubs practice to showcase his talents. On his way there, he meets a known Slugger in the league, who challenges him to the task of striking him out, which our hero does after much suspense. Towards the end of the chapter however, he gets shot and with that bullet, loses his youth and chance to play in the Majors.
Fast forward ten years, and he makes it at the age of 35 to the bottom feeder New York Knights, whose coach (Pop) just wants a pennant so he can retire peacefully. After seeing his abilities at the plate and as an outfielder, Roy quickly helps the Knights to contending for first place, as well as win over the hearts of fans. On his journey he meets two women as well, one who he is obsessed with for most of the novel (Memo), although he knows she is no good for him, and the other (Iris) who is perfect in every way, other than aesthetically. His corruption starts here after falling in love with both and choosing the one that inflicts more damage than helps.
After facing health complications and learning that he may only have this year left in the majors (with a rookie’s salary which was not enough to pay for his living expenses as is) and Memo saying she would be with him if he had more money, he makes a deal to give the game away in order to win enough money to retire with happily. When it’s his turn to bat as the final out of the 9th after blowing much of the game away, he realizes how important this is to him, only to strike out swinging. The novel ends with the media finding out about his deal, a boy asking him if what the newspaper said was true, and him crying on a bench.
This is the story of a hero who was corrupted by his inability to learn from mistakes. After having his heart broken, as many of us tend to do as well, he still keeps trying to win Memo’s love, even at the expense of another, Iris, who would have been perfect for him. It’s a sad story of a person who was given a second chance, only to blow it for some money that he inevitably feels horrible about, and throws it away. It’s something that I hope to take away from the book, which is to learn from life’s lessons as i discover them, and to hold onto things I believe in before others.