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The Natural

Bernard Malamud

Batter Up! Parts IX–X

Batter Up! Part VII

Batter Up! Parts IX–X, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Part IX

The fans come out to see the game between the Knights and the Pirates, which will decide who wins the pennant and goes on to the World Series. Though fans are annoyed at Roy for eating himself into a bellyache, they bet on the Knights to win anyway. Most people bet on the Knights, making Roy's sellout to throw the game even more of a betrayal.

Roy feels sick, but he puts up a good front for the other players, who feel better now that he has returned. Max Mercy tries to get a statement from Roy, but Roy rebuffs him. Finally, Pop Fisher comes to talk to Roy. Pop tells Roy that winning the pennant is all he wants, all he hopes for. Pop has come to realize that many people's lives "will go the same way all the time, without them getting what they want, no matter what." Pop asks Roy to go in and "do his damndest." Roy says he will go in, but no more.

The crowd goes nuts for Roy when he comes out—all except for Otto P. Zipp, whose curses Roy ignores. The Knights' star pitcher, Fowler, starts; Roy realizes that Fowler has also been bought by Judge Banner and Gus Sands. In the second inning, Roy goes up against the Pirates' pitcher, Vogelman. Roy holds himself back, letting pitches go by, though Wonderboy is almost "breaking his wrists to get at them." Roy thinks about Memo and about a dream he had in which Memo passed him by in a city and never looked back, never seemed to recognize him.

While Roy stands at the plate, thoughts come unbidden to him, such as the memory of his mother drowning an old tomcat, as well as the trip with Iris when she asked him, "When will you grow up, Roy?" Roy strikes out.

A breeze begins to blow dust over the field; it is drying out. On his next at- bat, Roy gets to first, but the next hitters are tagged out. Roy, now heavy- hearted, considers sending a note to the Judge to tell him the fix is off, but Roy balks when he wonders what he would then tell Memo. He cannot imagine the lonely life without her.

On Roy's next up, Otto P. Zipp begins a vicious run of cursing, and Roy repeatedly send foul shots flying toward the dwarf, finally hitting him in the skull. The ball bounces off Zipp's face and strikes a woman in the face—Iris Lemon, who had been standing up in support of Roy. She tells Roy that she is pregnant with their child, and that he must win this game for the both of them. Roy takes a good, healthy swing, and thunder cracks as he does so, but the ball lands foul—and even worse, Wonderboy has split in two. On the next pitch, Roy, distraught by the loss of Wonderboy, fails to lift the bat.

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