"The Unnatural Natural"

Have specific, concrete ideas for each of these questions. Have examples from the story marked so that they can be easily referenced.

  1. The idea of pretending is mentioned several times in this story, e.g., pages 229 and 236. What is the significance of pretending for baseball, the narrator, and for Meeden?
  2. On page 235, the narrator comes to realization that Meeden hates softball. What does he mean here, and how does he explain Meeden's relationship to his team (at the bottom of the page)?
  3. Why is Meeden called "the unnatural natural"? How does his life story explain this label?
  4. How is this story structured? Is what sense is the story about the narrator as well as Meeden?

Myth: A culturally significant story or explanation of how things came to be, e, g., how a god made the world or how a hero undertook a quest. Also, a story or plot, whether true or invented. Mythology refers to a system of stories that explain why the world is the way it is and why certain things happen. Myths explain certain social customs and observances as well as provide a rationale for certain behaviors.

From A Glossary of Literary Terms (Ed. M.H. Abrams) and The Oxford Companion to the English Language (Ed. Tom McArthur)

Consider the connection between sports and myth in "The Unnatural Natural" and "Surfers at Santa Cruz" (reference to the ancient Polynesians). Why do sports provide the material for myths: heroic action, plots, drama, unbelievable feats, unexplainable happenings?

Baseball, according to Murray Ross, evokes a pastoral myth, a nostalgia for a timeless era (which may never have existed) rooted in tranquility, reflection, renewal (spring), and contentment. Likewise, "Surfers" looks back to the ancient past of the Polynesians, which connotes purity, timelessness, skill, and communion with nature.

Why do we believe in myths? Need them? What do they provide for us?