Skip over navigation

The Natural

Bernard Malamud

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  The Natural

author ·  Bernard Malamud

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Sports novel; myth; tragedy

language ·  English

time and place written ·  1950–1951; United States

date of first publication ·  1952

publisher ·  Harcourt & Brace

narrator ·  An anonymous third person omniscient narrator

point of view ·  The narration always focuses on Roy Hobbs's perspective

tone ·  The tone of the novel is one of the traditional baseball yarn, so it is written in a rough New York vernacular language (for instance, Pop Fisher's head is described at various times as both a baldy and a bean)

tense ·  Past

setting (time) ·  1950s

setting (place) ·  New York City

protagonist(s) ·  Roy Hobbs

major conflict ·  Roy Hobbs, at the age of thirty-four, has achieved his dream of being a superstar baseball player, but his inability to control his appetites (for food, women, and wealth) threatens to undermine his performance and cost his team the pennant

rising action ·  Roy's leadership of his team into a pennant race; Roy's infatuation with Memo Paris; Roy's liaison with Iris Lemon

climax ·  Roy's strikeout in his last professional at-bat

falling action ·  Roy's beating of the Judge and Gus Sands; Roy's discovery that Max Mercy has ruined him

themes ·  Mythology; the tragic flaw; the lack of modern heroes

motifs ·  Vegetation; birds; water

symbols ·  Wonderboy; the train; the playing field

foreshadowing ·  There is much foreshadowing in The Natural, the most obvious of which is perhaps the young Roy's striking out of the Whammer—an event that repeats itself at the end of the novel, when Youngberry strikes out Roy

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us