Name: _________________________________ Period:)__________________
The Natural Pre-Game:
• Roy Hobbs - The ___________________ ____________ of The Natural. Roy is ________________ ,
but he can _________________ ___________________ due to a tragic combination of ____________,
selfish ambition, and naïveté. While still a teenager on his way to the major leagues, Roy is shot by
Harriet Bird and nearly killed. More than ten years later, at the age of thirty-five, Hobbs returns to the
game; his ____________ has ____________, but his _____________ and _____________ are the same.
• Sam Simpson - The scout who first _______________ ____________. Unfortunately, Sam dies on the
way to Hobbs' first tryout, and is therefore not present to prevent Hobbs from being attacked by Harriet
Bird. Sam acts as a kind of ______________________-________________________ to Roy.
• Wonderboy - Something of a character itself, Wonderboy is ______________ ____________. When
Roy was a boy, he came across a tree that had been struck by lightning, and he decided to make a bat out
of it. In the mythological world of The Natural, Wonderboy is Roy's ___________________________.
It is implied that the bat gives Roy ___________________ ___________________ that he might not
have had otherwise, (_______________________ ______________) allowing him to hit bad pitches.
It is also an unquestionable _____________________ ______________________; when Roy is in a
slump, the bat is said to "sag like a baloney."
• Max Mercy - A journalist who delights in exposing the seedy aspects of baseball. Mercy makes it his
mission to pry into the private lives of baseball players and put their personal flaws on display. He loves
nothing more than seeing a great player brought down. His name is ironic in that ________ _________
• Harriet Bird - A young woman for whom Roy falls while on his way to his first major league tryout.
Harriet is actually a murderer who shoots major athletes; after Hobbs strikes out the Whammer, a
baseball star, Harriet turns her sights on Hobbs. She later ______________ ________ in a hotel room.
• The Whammer - A talented but _______________ baseball _______________ whom Hobbs meets on
his way to his first major league tryout. After both the Whammer and Hobbs reveal their prowess at a
carnival, Sam Simpson bets the Whammer that Hobbs can __________________ him _____________.
Hobbs does so, and the Whammer retreats back to the train, now an "old man."
• Roy, riding on a train within a dark, womblike tunnel, is in the midst of his primordial ______________
as a ___________—a person with amazing natural abilities and a chance to do great things for the world.
Sam is Roy's guide, his father figure; perhaps more important, the Whammer is Roy's predecessor.
• In the novel, the _______________baseball _________________—the Whammer, Bump Bailey, and
Roy—are not simply good ballplayers; they are ________________________ _______________. More
specifically, they are symbols of ancient vegetative myths involving __________________ _________.
• Themes: Vegetative Myth
• These vegetative myths, which are prominent in the mythologies of many early cultures, describe a
________________ of ________________ and ____________________ based on the seasons. Birth
occurs in s______________________, when plants come back to life—everything is young, new and
exciting; ________________ is the height of this life, and then _________________ begins the process
of dying. ________________, when the land is cold and dark and lifeless, represents death.
• In this chapter, the Whammer is the "________________" ________________. It is spring, and a new
god must replace the Whammer. This hero- god is Roy, who not only strikes out the Whammer and
renders him into an "old man," but also symbolically cuts himself free from his "father" by accidentally
causing Sam's death.
• Symbols: Bird
• Many other significant metaphors and themes arise in this first section of the novel. Harriet Bird's last
name is significant; indeed, the entire novel is filled with bird imagery, which is common in all of
• ____________________ are often a ______________________ of ___________________ to Roy, but
he never heeds this. He quickly falls for Harriet, the girl who seems interested in him only for his
prowess and skill. Roy sees a pair of legs and breasts, a face that is "a little drawn and pale," and knows
only that he wants her. He is completely out of his element when she tries to engage him in
conversation, and it is here that Roy makes his greatest mistake.
• Theme: Roy and Percival
• When Harriet asks him what he wants out of life and he replies that he wants “to be the best there ever
was,” Harriet asks,"Is that all?“ Here Roy is undergoing the ________________ _____________—the
same test that Sir Percival fails when, in a slight reversal, he fails to ask the Fisher King the meaning of
his Grail vision.
• Because Roy is _____________________ to ________________________ baseball and ____________
_______________in the sport—beyond setting records and making money—______ ____________ his
test. Harriet tries to make Roy understand what she means, but she is unable; Roy, therefore, remains
ignorant that his life could have any _______________________________________________ (greed).
• He wants ____________, ______________, and ___________________, and to play ______________;
but only this last one has any real relevance to his role as a "vegetative hero." If Roy simply played the
game well and upheld the moral values required of a hero—and, more importantly, if he accepted
suffering as a necessary aspect of life—then his success would be unmatched.
• However, mired as he is in his real-world _______________ of ____________________, __________,
and _____________________________, Roy has already set himself on a path to ________________.
• Harriet is aware of this potential failure; and by shooting Roy, she only hastens what she believes is
• __________________________ and ________________________ are both examples of the
"____________________________ ________________________," or “hideous damsel” however,
Harriet is not really so simple.
• Harriet displays aspects of both ___________________ and __________ _________________; the
implication is that, if Roy were able to answer Harriet's question properly, she would not shoot him.
• If Roy had simply answered, "I don't know" when asked if he would be the best in the game, he might
have had a chance. It is his _____________________ and ________-_________________ that causes
his suffering—an idea that is common in Malamud's works.
• Literary Elements:
• Dialect/Diction: ______________________________________________________________________
• Setting: _____________________________________________________________________________
• Romantic Quest:______________________________________________________________________
• Pre-Game~~Vocabulary Words
• amiable – ___________________________________________________________________________
• chamois – __________________________________________________________________________
• contorted – _________________________________________________________________________
• droll – _____________________________________________________________________________
• ducks – ____________________________________________________________________________
• gabardine – ________________________________________________________________________
• greenhorn – ________________________________________________________________________
• hayseed – __________________________________________________________________________
• intone – ___________________________________________________________________________
• marvelously – ______________________________________________________________________
• red nose – __________________________________________________________________________
• splurge – ___________________________________________________________________________
• stereopticon – _______________________________________________________________________
• suppressed – ________________________________________________________________________
• valise – ____________________________________________________________________________
• wrested – __________________________________________________________________________
The Natural ~~Batter Up! Section 1 Notes
• Red Blow - One of the ____________________ of the New York _________________. Red is one of
the first members of the team to take a liking to Roy Hobbs, and he does his best to steer Hobbs clear of
• Pop Fisher - The long-suffering manager of the New York Knights. Once a great player himself, Pop
once made a bad play that cost his team an important game, and he has never recovered from that
• He wants nothing more than to lead the Knights to a pennant victory; it is his ______________
______________. Pop’s life is tied to the team; the worse the team is doing, the ____________ Pop's
health gets, as we see in his mysterious ailment, "athlete's foot of the hands."
• Memo Paris - The spoiled niece of Pop Fisher. Memo is a ____________________ ___________, and
Roy swiftly falls in love with her. His infatuation with her, and her _____________________ to
_____________________ his ___________________________, eventually leads to Roy's slump.
• In this section, Malamud introduces many more allusions to ____________________ ________.
• The team, of course, is the _________________, like the Knights of the Round Table.
• Pop Fisher is the ailing ________________ _______________. In the legend—or, rather, in one of its
many versions—the Fisher King burns his hands when he tries to claim the Grail for his own glory.
Pop's hands, afflicted with "athlete's foot of the hands," itch depending on the ________________or
___________________ of the team. Pop has been jinxed ever since he failed to grasp the Holy Grail—
the World Series victory—twenty-five years earlier.
• Now, Pop believes that by leading the Knights to a World Series victory, or at least a league pennant, he
can ______________ the _______________ and his own jinx. However, Pop needs a ______________
_______________, a real Knight, to provide necessary leadership. So far, the selfish, foolish Bump has
been unable to do so.
• It is ultimately up to Roy—another "natural" like Bump or the Whammer, but perhaps even better—to
take yet another shot at achieving this _______________ ___________________.
• _____________________ has failed so far, driven as he is by his own _________________ and
_____________________________. Roy is clearly in a similar position to Bump, but there is a
thoughtfulness to Roy, a kind of simple charm, that makes it seem as if he has the potential to break out
of earlier mold of failed heroes.
• Ultimately, however, we see that Roy allows his desires—for _____________, for ___________, for
_______________—to drag him from the right path. (________________ ______________)
• Reading The Natural is somewhat of an exercise in frustration, as Roy continually makes what are
clearly bad and foolish decisions; his ___________ for ______________ and ____________ of
____________________ seem like things that no sane person would ever choose to do.
• Malamud chooses to update Arthurian myths by placing them in a real-world settings. He attempts to
present these myths in a realistic mode, which sometimes causes problems for the characterization of
• On the one hand, Roy is a mythological _________________, moving through dangerous situations that
few real people will ever encounter; but Roy is also portrayed as a rather simple man of plain appetites,
unable to make any sense of the myth-based world he inhabits.
• It seems almost unfair of Malamud to place a _______________________ (if painfully clueless)
____________________ like Roy into a _________________ setting, and then let him flounder.
• The tone of the novel is often depressing, as Roy constantly rejects obvious positive values for negative
– Already, in this section, the redheaded woman (who we learn later is Memo) has captured Roy's
limited imagination, and she will soon become an obsession from which Roy frees himself only
after he has lost everything.
• Despite his age, Roy has learned nothing in the last fifteen years; he is the same _____________,
_____________________ teenager he was at the novel's beginning.
• We may wonder why Malamud chooses to place an interval of fifteen years between Roy's first shot at
the major leagues and his second. Once again, Malamud is somewhat bound to his choice of a
mythological setting. In the first section ("Pre-Game"), Roy strikes out the _____________, an aging
star. This event represents the beginning of the ________________ _______________, as the
__________________ hero-god _______________ the dying, __________________ one.
• In order for the myth to work, however, Roy must be the same age when his own power waxes and
wanes, as the vegetative myth ____________________ with the ____________________, within a
single year. Roy must play (or, as a hero-god, "exist") for one season and one season only, like all such
• Malamud therefore creates a device to suddenly make Roy the age of a veteran player: he is shot by
Harriet Bird, and must _______________his quest ______________________.
• Vocabulary Words
• brogue – _________________________________________________________________________
• colossal – ________________________________________________________________________
• conk – ___________________________________________________________________________
• shenanigan – ______________________________________________________________________
• third sacker – _____________________________________________________________________
The Natural ~~Batter Up! Section 2
• Otto P. Zipp - A ____________________ who attends the Knights' games in order to cheer for Bump
Bailey. After Bump dies, Zipp ___________________ to give that same support to Hobbs.
• This section recycles some of the events from "Pre-Game" in which Roy struggles against the
Whammer. The Whammer, Bump Bailey, and Roy are all cut from the ___________ _________ —they
are variations on the same ___________________ ______________, and each of them is eventually
• In the case of the Whammer, the __________________ man, Roy, ___________________ the
_____________________ one. This pattern is altered, however, when young Roy is shot, preventing
him from entering big-league baseball and taking his place as the next superstar.
• When Roy finally makes the Knights’ team, he is already as old as the ____________________ was
when Roy _____________________ him. Furthermore, there is already a new Whammer on the team:
• As both men are the same age, Roy does not replace or usurp Bump, but merely fills the space Bump
leaves behind after he is incapacitated, and later dies.
• This ______________________ is emphasized by the physical similarities between the two men, though
Roy has a bit more natural skill. Malamud does, however, use Bump's character to provide Memo with a
convenient excuse for rebuffing Roy's advances. Were Roy to become the team's _____________
_______________ without Bump ever having played for the Knights, then Memo would cling to Roy as
much as she did to Bump. As Memo has an attachment to the departed Bump, her callous behavior
toward Roy is more plausible.
• In terms of the novel's mythological structure, the most important event in this chapter is Roy's first at-
bat. This event is the first time Roy exercises his abilities in the service of Pop Fisher, and the first time
we see Roy's ________________of ______________________ and ____________.
• These powers are part of Roy's role as a __________________ _______________ -- god in the
mythological context of the novel. This at-bat brings the idea of the _______________________
____________________ to the fore-front: Roy's hit coincides with an immediate downpour, and the rain
continues unabated for three days.
• The ____________________ _____________, and soon the once- parched ______________ is
__________________ and _______________________ once more.
• The hit ball "plummets like a _________________ ____________________" into center field,
representing a metaphorical victory over the forces arrayed against Roy.
• But even as Roy's _____________ begins to _____________, particularly after he replaces Bump, his
own _______________ ______________ begin to show: Roy goes after "bad balls," which Pop begins
to realize is a sign of someone who makes bad choices. Just as Roy goes after the _______________
____________________, we see later that he continues to go after after the _______________
_______________—first Harriet Bird and ten Memo, rather than Iris Lemon.
• But in the case of bad pitches, Roy has a _________________ ______________________—
___________________________, which allows him to hit those bad pitches anyway. ________ allows
Roy, when hitting, to become a creature of ________________ ______________, ignoring the many
small decisions that most batters have to make.
• However, the fact that Roy never trains without Wonderboy is almost certainly ______________; it is
not only possible, but likely, that Wonderboy will be gone someday.
• We sense that Roy needs to know how to ______________ ________________ without his special bat;
Roy, however, never seems to learn this lesson himself.
• But while Wonderboy can cover bad pitches, Roy has no secret weapon when it comes to women. As
Pop suspects, Roy will make a "harmful mistake" by lusting after _________________, which
ultimately ________________ him of his ___________________________.
• Aside from the story, it is also important to look at Malamud's ___________________________. When
Roy hits the cover off the ball, Malamud writes that "a _______________ like a twenty-one gun salute
_______________________ the sky there was a straining, ripping sound and a few drops of rain
spattered to the ground." The immense noise could be simply the crack of the bat or, more likely, the
crack of ________________ the ______________ and a roll of ______________.
• Batter-Up! (Section 2) Vocabulary Words
• bulbous –______________________________________________________________________
• fungoes – ______________________________________________________________________
• makeshift – _____________________________________________________________________
• perdition – _____________________________________________________________________
• prodigious – ____________________________________________________________________
• putrid – ________________________________________________________________________
• rhubarb – ______________________________________________________________________
• ructions – ______________________________________________________________________
• shyster – _______________________________________________________________________
• southpaw – _____________________________________________________________________
• whammies – ____________________________________________________________________
The Natural ~~Batter Up! Section 3
• Judge Goodwill Banner - The ______________________ of the New York Knights. Judge prefers
his team to lose, as this allows him to run the organization cheaply. He is
__________________________ and often bets against his own players. He attempts to bribe Roy into
throwing the game for the pennant. Judge lives in a tower high above the ballpark; scheming ways to
make money and to take back Pop Fisher's remaining forty percent of the team's stock
• Gus Sands - A________________ and _____________________ bookie who tries to bribe Hobbs into
throwing the final game for the pennant. Gus is a good friend of Memo and, in Hobbs's eyes, a rival. He
is Parzival’s ________________ _________________.
• In this section, the novel's parallels with mythology become fairly explicit. __________, who can be
loosely identified as ____________________, begins to fulfill his role as the
_______________________ of the Fisher ___________________ (Pop) by ending the
___________________ (the Knights' long string of _________________________) and bringing
___________________ back to the _________________ _______________ through the use of his
abilities. The playing field turns green, Pop's hands heal, the fans begin to cheer, and everyone's spirits
begin to rise.
• Roy is a force of life, giving ______________ and ___________________ to the Waste Land and its
inhabitants. Malamud's idea of the Waste Land is informed not only by the myth of the Fisher King, but
also by the famous poem The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. The image of the Waste Land, therefore, not
only refers to the physical ________________ _____________, but also extends to the
___________________ watching the game, all Knights fans, perhaps even _____________________
• Malamud deliberately makes his allusions to myth vague and unclear; open to several interpretations. It
is easy to identify the Fisher _______________ with _________ Fisher and the ______________
_______________ with the physical dried-up ______________ __________________; it is more
difficult to pin down the various meanings behind these connections.
• Unlike the myths about the Fisher King, The Natural is not a closed-ended story. In the myths, once the
Holy Grail heals the Fisher King, the Waste Land disappears. In Malamud's novel, however, the
_______________l—the ________________—has not yet been achieved, and the healing Roy brings
may only be fleeting. In Malamud's rather pessimistic worldview, even a romance, with all its mythic
overtones, cannot survive a modern, realistic setting.
• Roy's ____________________ is already being _______________________ by his distractions:
_________________, glory, _____________________, and Memo. Roy himself does not even
understand his own relationship to the Waste Land: he is indifferent to his fans and considers them little
more than a measure of how famous he is. To him, the fans are not a part of the game, and he certainly
__________ ______ _______________________ he has an _________________________ to them.
• We see this attitude in Roy's disdain about revealing his past. He selfishly guards his shame at being
shot by Harriet Bird, though he presumably has little or nothing to fear from the exposure of this
incident. Nonetheless, Roy's talent remains, regardless of the events of his past.
• The episode in the nightclub with the demonic Gus Sands and his "Pot of Fire" reveals how
___________________ and __________________________ the thirty-four year-old Roy is. Gus wins
$600 from Roy simply by playing on the ballplayer's obvious desire to impress Memo; Roy's series of
magic tricks, meanwhile, only gives him a ____________ victory over Gus and Mercy.
• Some critics have identified ________________________ as a ____________________ figure, able to
predict the future through the modern magic of statistics. However, Merlin's role in Arthurian myth is
primarily a positive one, an _________________ to the King or the hero. Gus is more like a
_______________________ _____________, playing on Roy's love of money as Memo plays on his lust
and Mercy his desire for glory.
• Indeed, these three individuals—____________, ____________, and ______________—embody all
three of Roy's self-centered desires—___________________, ____________, and
_______________________, respectively. They each play off one another: Roy's desire for Memo leads
him into losing money to Gus, then leads to the magic trick which gets Mercy scribbling furiously in his
• Critics have also pointed out that the ____________________ of The Natural all have
_______________ with their ___________________. The Judge thrives in darkness, unable to sustain
bright light, smoke curling around his head—a devil figure, if there ever was one, spouting terribly
ironic platitudes about how money is the root of all evil. Gus has a glass eye, unable to see anything
other than monetary gain, much like the Judge.
• Even Memo's vision is often obscured by her _____________ for Bump. These problems represent not
only the narrow lack of vision afforded to most such villains, but also these villains' difficulty in
correctly judging Roy's character. As we continue to see later Roy consistently surprises them, though
his victories against them are hollow in the end.
• Batter-Up! (Section 3) Vocabulary Words
• cathartics – __________________________________________________________________
• contemplated – _______________________________________________________________
• indigent – ___________________________________________________________________
• limelight – ___________________________________________________________________
• per diem – ___________________________________________________________________
• roundhouse – _________________________________________________________________
• scurvy – _____________________________________________________________________
• shade – ______________________________________________________________________
• strident – ____________________________________________________________________