Pride in John Updike’s During the Jurassic Essay

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Pride in John Updike’s During the Jurassic

Though John Updike focuses on the Mesozoic in his short story During the Jurassic, the commentary he intertwines with the plot is undoubtedly drawn out of our modern society. Rather than phrasing broad societal concepts in mundane modern terms, however, Updike carefully constructs a Jurassic world in which mankind's sin of pride, as well as our inevitable fall, are reflected through the dinosaur's passion for immensity and their rapidly approaching extinction.

The first key to unlocking Updike's rather carefully hidden commentary is to understand the relationship of the story to our society. Though the Jurassic world has seemingly few corollaries with the modern world, Updike uses one of
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Thus, when the iguanodon passionately desires the brontosaurus, and thus her huge size and sophistication, he is in a sense hungering after the future; his desire is directed not at the brontosaurus, but at the evolutionary superiority that she embodies.

Additionally, one can draw a great deal of meaning from the other dinosaurs Updike chooses for his characters. The iguanodon and his wife, a compsognathus, differ ludicrously in size; an average iguanodon measured ten meters from snout to tail, whereas a compsognathus measured only seventy centimeters. This parity in size serves to emphasize the iguanodon's desire for the brontosaurus and, clearly, his jealousy of the diplodocus. The dinner guests are further representations of the iguanodon's struggle with his rapidly approaching extinction. The stegosauri, due to their extremely small brain cavity, are considered to be among the least intelligent of the Jurassic dinosaurs. Indeed, the iguanodon considers that "among their many stupid friends these were the most stupid" (Updike 195). The iguanodon further describes them as "cumbersome," and emphasizes how "they dragged their tails" (Updike 195). Undoubtedly, the iguanodon is disgusted by these creatures, which are far closer in size to him than either the brontosaurus or the diplodocus.

The remainder of the guests are portrayed, though briefly, in equally distasteful lights: the carnivorous allosaurus is a womanizer; the

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