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The Natural

Bernard Malamud

Batter Up! Part VI

Batter Up! Part V

Batter Up! Part VI, page 2

page 1 of 2

Iris Lemon awaits Roy in the park. With much effort, he has tracked her down and asked her for a date. As Iris waits for Roy, she remembers another time in a park, when she was only sixteen, and a man she had just met had date-raped her.

Roy shows up, and Iris gets into the car with him. He has been hitting very well in his games, but he has been unable to get Iris out of his mind after seeing her in the stands. But upon seeing her now, Roy is somewhat disappointed; she is heavier than he had thought, and she does look as good in a brown dress as she did in the red one. However, Roy admits that she is attractive, though he usually prefers slim girls like Memo.

Iris is likewise disappointed; in street clothes, Roy does not look like the warrior that appears to be in uniform, but merely like "any big-muscled mechanic or bartender on his night off." Roy thinks about Memo, but he also realizes that Iris has done something for him that Memo never could or would. He feels very grateful toward Iris.

They drive to a lake, where Roy parks the car. Roy asks Iris why she stood up for him that day in the stands. Iris reveals that she is not a baseball fan, but that she likes to read about the different players. She stood up for Roy in the stands because she hated "to see a hero fail. There are so few of them." Without heroes, Iris says, "we're all plain people and don't know how far we can go."

Iris tells Roy that he has a great influence on many young boys, and that he has to give these admirers his best, both as a player and as a man. Iris says it was hard for her to give up her privacy when she stood to support him, but she knew it was impossible to "do anything for anyone without giving up something of your own." Iris then asks Roy about his own life, and she presses Roy about his ambition.

Roy finally tells her the story of Harriet Bird, which he has never revealed to anyone. His life, he says, has been one of constantly frustrated ambition. Iris tries to console him, telling him that "suffering is what brings us toward happiness," but Roy responds that he is sick of suffering—a statement that causes Iris to shrink away from him.

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