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MonkeyNotes-Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
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Stimulated by the bill for his rent and his own shortage of funds, Wilhelm begins to mentally accuse his father of selfishness. In spite of knowing that his son is in trouble, he refuses to offer assistance. As if to corroborate his charge, Wilhelm recalls the scene in which his father revealed that he had forgotten the date of the death of Wilhelm's mother, his own wife. For a moment his father's selfishness is established, and Wilhelm appears in an almost sympathetic light. Then the third person omniscient narrator reveals Wilhelm as he appears in the eyes of his father: an overweight, jittery, whining, unkempt bungler. And then, from a still more detached view, some of Wilhelm's bizarre behavior is described. The image of Wilhelm as a loser is firmly established again.

To add to his early morning misery, the mail contains a letter from Margaret, his estranged wife. She is protesting a post-dated check and demanding payment for the premiums on their sons' educational insurance policies. Since he has no money to pay the premiums, he is made to feel more miserable, for he wants to take care of his children. Wilhelm suddenly feels persecuted by both his wife and his father. The pressure they apply, both real and imagined, makes Wilhelm feel "congested" in his head and heart. He frequently feels he is drowning in his problems and cannot breathe. His anger towards those people that he should love only intensifies the problem.


Feeling miserable, Wilhelm finally heads to the dining room to meet his father for breakfast. He sees his father seated with Mr. Perls, whom he does not like. His description of his father's friend as a "frazzle-faced herring" is humorous, especially in light of Wilhelm's own slovenly appearance. When the conversation turns to money, Wilhelm sees the transparent greed of his father and Perls. He also finds, to his disgust, that he lies about his financial condition to please his father and to impress Mr. Perls. He once again feels congested.

When the conversation turns to Dr. Tamkin, Wilhelm panics. It is obvious that the two men at the table see Tamkin as a crook and laugh at his dubious credentials. Wilhelm joins half-heartedly in the laughter while experiencing despair in his heart because the object of their ridicule is the man in whom Wilhelm has foolishly invested all his immediate financial hopes. His laugh is again his characteristic "panting laugh", an expression of panic. The weight of his misery provokes Wilhelm to see himself as a heavily laden Leviathan: "The spirit, the peculiar burden of his existence lay, upon him like an accretion, a load, a hump". This chapter, which so wonderfully captures Wilhelm's misery, ends as he thinks anxiously about the opening of the stock market. The reader feels that Wilhelm will soon find he has lost all of his money.

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