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