"Experience makes good people better." She was staring at the lake. "How does it do that?" "Through their suffering." "I had enough of that," he said in disgust. "We have two lives, Roy, the life we learn with and the life we live with after that. Suffering is what brings us toward happiness All it taught me was to stay aware from it. I am sick of all I have suffered." She shrank away a little.

This quote, from "Batter Up!" part VI, reveals just how little Roy has learned from his life, and what it will mean if he does not choose to be with Iris. Iris has a wisdom that Memo does not even come close to having. Iris's statements about the necessity of suffering as a way of truly appreciating happiness recall a constant theme in Malamud's novels. Roy will not come to understand these words until the very last pages of the novel, when he thinks, "I never did learn anything out of my past life, now I have to suffer again." The essential point is easy to grasp: only through suffering can one recognize happiness for what it is. Roy's dreams of wealth and fame, of breaking records and getting what life "owes" him, is only a mere childish fantasy of what happiness is supposed to be.