'You don't mind my calling you Harry?'

Terms of address in John Updike's Rabbit tetralogy


  • Peter Backhaus Waseda University




This paper examines the use of address terms in John Updike's Rabbit books ((Updike 1995). As will be argued, the data provide a unique, long-term perspective on how an individual is addressed in American society. The first part of the analysis provides a comprehensive overview of the great variety of address terms used towards the protagonist, Harry Angstrom, in the decades covered by the books. In a second step, the paper focuses on two important side characters to examine how their address behavior changes through the course of the series. The main aim of the paper is to demonstrate the great potential of fictional data for the study of address terms and, vice versa, how the study of address terms can contribute to a more profound understanding of a literary text.