For Class XII – Should Wizard hit Mommy?

This story has two issues running through it. One is the parent child equation. Jack wants to tell his daughter the story in a particular manner, the conclusion being that parents know what is best for their children. ‘Should W hit M?’ raises the issue, ‘Are parents always right’? Jo wants Roger Skunk to have the security of belonging to a group. To her, being accepted as part of the peer group is the most important thing. But Jack wants Roger Skunk to listen to his mother, though it means smelling bad again.

The other thread that weaves in and out of the story is Jack’s discomfort with the independence that his wife and daughter have started showing. Jack is not a feminist and doesn’t believe in it either. Whether in the story or real life, he would like to maintain the status quo – children should listen to their parents; his daughter and his wife are likeable when ‘hanging on his words’ (Pg 53).

This attitude of Jack is what makes him feel ‘caught in an ugly middle position’. He loves his family but is unhappy because of their independent thinking. Jo has started asking questions, and her gestures, demands and even the way she smiles show that she is growing up and acquiring a personality of her own.

His pregnant wife is busy painting furniture. To Jack the woodwork seems like a ‘cage’–he feels trapped in a life that he is not at ease with. And though his wife is ‘in the cage with him’, her independence makes him feel unwanted. He feels no bond with her, no desire.

The ‘half old tan and half new ivory’ (last para of story) is a metaphor for his life – new feminist changes in the old family structure.


This is a story that has a number of layers and meanings to it. I am sure that some of you at least will re-read this story at various stages of your life, and see new meaning in it with every reading. 🙂


33 thoughts on “For Class XII – Should Wizard hit Mommy?

  1. I went through almost ten explanations for this and none of them was satisfactory, the thought that I won’t be able to get this made me anxious . THANK YOU for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After the reading the story twice and going through many blogs like this i still have a doubt
    In the last few lines, it says something about Jack not wanting to speak to her, talk to her or even touch her. Why is that?


    1. Jo’s flashes of independent thinking haven’t gone down too well with Jack, who liked his women ‘apprehensive, hanging on his words’. Now his pregnant wife is moving heavy furniture and painting the woodwork independently, without waiting for his manly strength. This independence shakes conservative Jack and his insecurity evaporates his desire for her. At this moment, he feels no bond with her; he is caught up in his own changing / bewildering situation.


    1. Clare, though pregnant, is painting the woodwork instead of resting. She is independent, that is, she does not feel the need for her husband’s permission to do what she desires. There is a sense of equality with Jack.


    1. The cage is a metaphor to denote the feeling of being trapped in circumstances over which Jack has no control. Clare, his pregnant wife, has a mind of her own, and is busy painting the woodwork. She does not need his permission to do what she wants. Jack did not feel comfortable when the women ‘took anything for granted: he liked them apprehensive, hanging on his words.’ Hence the feeling of being in a cage.


    1. ‘Evenshiladee’ is just the way Jo pronounces ‘eventually’ (‘in the end, especially after a series of problems’). To her it’s a new word and her question shows how intently she’s listening to the story and the twist her father has brought into it.
      (Jack’s conclusion is that the animals eventually got used to the skunk smell and were friendly with Roger. Jo, on the other hand, sums up her feelings about this new and strange conclusion by stating succinctly ‘That was a stupid mommy.’

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just want to say that this explanation is REALLY good.
    There are so many points up there that I hadn’t thought about before.
    And the way you’ve written and explained made it So easy to understand and remember.
    Thank you So much for that!!


  4. Ma’am…..i am no student of yours but when i read this short analysis of yours….the crux of this whole chapter was delivered to me…crisp to the point and the correct explainations to all my doubts! thank you very much!


  5. Hi. So i have a different theory about the whole jack angle. I thought (after i finished reading) that jack probably.faced some issues similar to rogers in his youth and that perhaps made a very strong impression on him.
    And maybe the ‘cage’ is actually him feeling really overwhelmed and vulnerable to an extent where he didn’t want to be touched or even spoken to, something he barely managed to conceal in front of his daughters.


  6. thnk-u mam..i have english xam 2morrow n i had difficulty in understanding the ending but i understud it well now..if m not wrong..jack was telling his own childhood story through roger shunk..jack was also humiliated..the story is simple but has many layers..thts why i like the story..thnks mam.


  7. Dear maam, although am not a student of urs nd we don’t noe eachother…bt ur way of explaining things s really applaudable!!
    Thank u 4 the help maam! U r truly a devoted teachr! 😊


  8. i think jack ought to have handled jo’s queries and apprehensions in a more positive, open and responsible way.This would have been the ending..
    skunks mother gives in to skunk’s continued persistence and allows him to have his way.The next day skunk plays happily with his friends .His joy knows no bounds.his heart exults in the newly found friendship and acceptance .The wizard was no less than God for him for having giving him this new world.Suddenly,the games come to a halt.Lomri ,the dreaded enemy of the skunks had just appeared..All the creatures ran away leaving the skunk at the mercy of the greedy and the hungry jackal.The lomri pounced on the skunk and dragged it along for his child’s dinner the skunk screamed in terror and pain. At that moment the skunks parents appeared and let off their dirty smell.the lomri ran away leaving the skunk behind.
    next day the skunk paid the wizard double the amount to get back his natural smell .meanwhile roger skunk’s friends felt guilty for having ditched their friend in danger and asked forgiveness from the skunk family. It was a lesson well learnt for roger skunk.
    pls leave ur comments


    1. Raghav ,Yours is the perfect ending to the story- solves all problems. I am truly impressed with your wrapping up of the story. But we’ve got to keep in mind that most situations we find ourselves in do not have perfect endings. Jo and her mother are discovering themselves and the equation that Jack has grown up with is being questioned and turned upside down. Dissatisfaction, introspection and then, maybe, at some pt of time, the realisation that all have a right to think and do as they wish.
      Hence, tough life, no perfection! 😦


  9. I found this story more or less incomprehensible while reading it. I mean, Jack’s issues with Jo growing up were put into words pretty directly, but the whole situation with his wife seemed awfully vague. John Updike has always lost me between layers in his work. Thank you so much for this lucid and short explanation. 🙂


  10. mam’ i’ll surely come to your home..for my’s a bit typical english..i need to understand it..till the core.


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