Hope and Saul Bellow

Hope and Saul Bellow

Length: 1948 words (5.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Hope and Saul Bellow

 
    People grow up to respect their elders, their society, and their lifestyle. We learn from the people around us and our own experience. Saul Bellow presents his moral code and the standards that he believes people should follow. His characters experience loneliness and alienation from society. They place blame on the people around them, society, and religion. Each character believes in something; hope is everything to them. They think they can promote change and achieve a moral standard. Bellow believes in the human spirit. His characters show that no matter what we are presented with, or what hand fate deals us, we can conquer.

 

        Bellow acknowledges the primitive tendencies latent in human beings. Scratch the surface of human civilization, and you will find the beast lying just below. As Frank D. McConnell states "the shuddering recognition of how little distant we actually are from the savagery of our origins, how fragile a thing is the civilization which makes, we continue to tell ourselves, our life worth living". Bellow's protagonists sense this dark side of the human spirit lurking within society. They struggle to find decency and meaning in the chaos of the world.

 

In Bellow's novel The Victim, the main character, Asa Leventhal, a resident of Chicago, struggles with his identity in a subtle way. Instead of philosophizing about who he is and what he is doing, he creates conflict with people and society. Allbee lost his job and had a drinking problem, Levanthal could have helped get him a new job or given him assistance. He is insecure about what he is doing, because despite his wish to ignore and turn away his old friend Kirby Allbee, he also feels compelled to help him.  Allbee places all the blame on Levanthal for losing his job. If Levanthal had talked to him and told him it was also due to his drinking problem and relationship difficulties, he would not be blamed for costing Allbee his job. Instead, he takes responsibility he is unwilling to confront Allbee, wanting none of Allbee's problems to invade his life. As Derek Rubin writes in his analysis of Levanthal's faults "Levanthal's being caught between his desire to turn Allbee away and his inability to ignore Allbee's demand for help is related to his insecurity as a marginal man"(1). Kirby tries to reason with Leventhal, but is turned away " 'Watch your talk,' said Leventhal stiffly.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Hope and Saul Bellow." 123HelpMe.com. 28 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=12053>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Saul Bellow Essay

- Saul Bellow is one of the greatest influential authors in American literature. His emotions and point of view during and after WWII impacted American society during the late 1900’s. Bellow created an mental and physical images, illustrating the social and political injustices of the Holocaust as well as illustrating the American life after WWII through the eyes a Russian-American man. Saul Bellow uses his writing to describe his life and help people find their purpose and meanings in the world. Although he lived through parts of the Great Depression; WWII impacted his writing career the most....   [tags: Saul Bellow Essays]

Research Papers
1014 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about An Existential Crisis By Saul Bellow

- Saul Bellow’s novel Seize the Day has personal relevance to me, because, in some ways, the story of Tommy Wilhelm is the story of my father. They both face a world that they neither belong in nor understand. They both have violent tantrums that reveal the emotional maturity of a child. They both victimize themselves by complaining about the supposed injustices that the world has committed against them. Wilhelm and I both experience an existential crisis partly due to our fathers, although we are in two very different stages in life....   [tags: Existentialism, Philosophy of life, Life, Anxiety]

Research Papers
888 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on Self Discovery in Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King

- Self Discovery in Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King Have you ever felt like a complete social out cast. Some one who has trouble fitting in and has never quite found their true calling. Being shunned by those closest to him and being unaccepted by society, the character in this novel is a perfect example. Saul Bellow's character Eugene Henderson, in, Henderson the Rain King, (1959), is a man who struggles to change his ways and find out his true calling. In this novel, a 55-year old man, tries to get through a mid-life crisis....   [tags: Henderson the Rain King]

Free Essays
610 words (1.7 pages)

Saul Bass, The Screenwriter of Design Essay

- In the 1940s, much was changing in the world due to the effects of World War II, specifically in the parts of Europe. Suffused with dictators and totalitarian governments the artists of the era wanted to escape the environment and embark upon a new journey and a fresh start. America during that time was a capitalist with a culturally and ethnically rich background in music, films and fashion. This was the best opportunity for the artists to visit America. Thus a group of artists with their modernistic approach, went to New York City and started a new wave known as the “The New York School”....   [tags: modernistic art, design, saul bass]

Research Papers
1568 words (4.5 pages)

Essay On Saul Bass

- Saul Bass In this essay, I will be discussing Saul Bass and a couple of his notable title sequences. I will also outline his milestones and discuss his visual style. Saul Bass was born May 8, 1920 and died April 25, 1996. He was an American graphic designer and filmmaker who was born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrant parents. He attended James Monroe High School and studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan, New York. Saul Bass was well-known for his design of title sequences, film posters and corporate logos....   [tags: Title sequence, Saul Bass, Film, Closing credits]

Research Papers
1361 words (3.9 pages)

Saul's Tragedy Essay

- ... As many fled for their lives, King Saul’s loses hope in winning the war. After having to see the death of his three sons, he gives up all hope in winning. King Saul dreaded the thought of falling into the hands of his heathen enemies (King Saul’s pride). So instead of dying by his enemies he calls his armor-bearer to slay him. However, the armor-bearer is to terrified and will not obey King Saul. Therefore, King Saul kills himself by falling upon his sword. Since, the armor-bearer saw that King Saul was dead....   [tags: screenplay outline]

Research Papers
1223 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Saul and David

- God is the creator, sustainer, judge, and redeemer. However, the most important characteristic of God is love. Love is an admirable quality. Genesis is an account of God’s magnificent creations. God saw that everything he created was good. The book of Genesis focuses on six persons and their families: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. God blessed man and all of his creations. For a moment, God’s creation was as He intended; paradise. Man sinned and God became unhappy, but he still provided for his people....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1318 words (3.8 pages)

Essay Finding Hope in James Muyskens' The Sufficiency of Hope

- Finding Hope in James Muyskens' The Sufficiency of Hope Most people hope the world is the way they believe it is. That is, most people hope that their view of the world is right. They usually do not hope for the truth about things to be much better than what they suppose it is. Sometimes the hope is a factor in causing the belief; sometimes the hope stems from the desire to be right about one's belief; and in some cases the hope may follow the belief, i.e., one becomes accustomed even to an austere view of the world and finally comes to prefer it....   [tags: Muyskens Sufficiency of Hope]

Research Papers
6773 words (19.4 pages)

Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus Essay

- Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus "Hope for the Flowers" is a story about a caterpillar, Stripe, who was born in this world and lived a normal life as expected from a caterpillar: eating and growing bigger. However, he became tired of doing such routine over and over again and thought that there must be something more to life. So he left the tree which served as his home from the very start and went out to the world to wander. Yes, he was fascinated with things he saw, but he was unsatisfied, until he found a caterpillar pillar rising up the sky with the top impossible to see....   [tags: Paulus Hope Flowers Story]

Research Papers
1586 words (4.5 pages)

Saul Essay

- Change is inevitable. However, whether the change is good or bad depends on the individual. In the bible, Saul is described, at first, to be a “handsome man, and [that] there was not a more handsome person than he among the songs of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people,” an image that appears the most fit for a king (1 Samuel 9:2). Conveniently, due to the people’s complaints and want of a king, Samuel finds Saul, the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamites, with the help of God’s guidance and Saul is anointed as the first king of Israel....   [tags: Religion, God ]

Research Papers
785 words (2.2 pages)

Related Searches

'You sound like a fool. I don't know what you're after, but you're not doing yourself any good with talk like that' "(Victim 76) Leventhal does not question himself or wonder what he is doing here; instead he wonders how to deal with things and agonizes over his commitments. He is not certain how to deal with people. Bellow puts Leventhal through a series of crises and portrays how he endures them. Although Leventhal is filled with self doubt, he never uses the crises as a turning point for change. He refuses to allow society, friends, religion, or even himself to acknowledge his problems. In the end he never does admit his shortcomings; instead he puts them behind him. He ignores his past failures, and changes his outlook towards the world. Leventhal has not learned how to deal with society at large, but he has accepted it. Now, despite his shortcomings and lack of understanding about society, he has given up his anger and accepted anything the world can throw at him.

 

         Bellow chooses Chicago as his setting, because it mirrors his youth and is a city where self discovery is possible. He himself grew up in the slums and he gives Chicago credit for helping him rise above the poverty that surrounded him.(Kramer, 1) Despite the grimness of the city and the depression that many characters have to overcome in such a setting, it is a place of hope where moral superiority and achievement can take place.

 

        Leventhal demonstrates this by overcoming his fear of society and being able to deal with other people, just as he can deal with the life problems and sickness presented before him. He can help people and help himself. Leventhal reunites the sick child with his father, after the boy becomes ill due to Levanthal's sister-in-law's inability to help the child. He cares for the child and finds a good physician, even though it interferes with his job which he eventually loses.

 

    In Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellow creates Eugene Henderson: an eccentric, manic, crazy, rich and unbelievable character. He does not know what he is doing in the world; He has little respect for family and no path to follow. Henderson is the perfect example of someone who will never be happy. He has inherited his fortune, an easy luxurious lifestyle, and he is the beneficiary of a wonderful education. He was given chances at life that many would never be offered. Henderson would be completely free if not for an enemy he created in himself through his own habits. He has sought out misery and society helped him find it. In the second paragraph, Henderson complains about his life:

 

"my parents, my wives, my girls, my children, my farm, my animals,     my  habits, my money, my music lessons, my drunkenness, my prejudices,   my brutality, my teeth, my face, my soul! I have to cry, 'No, no, get   back, curse you, let me alone!' But how can they let me alone? They belong to me.   They are mine. And they pile into me from all sides. It   turns to chaos." (1)

 

        Henderson does not believe in himself or his abilities and cannot enjoy the life he is presented, so he takes a trip to Africa. At the beginning of the book Henderson asks himself,  "What made me take this trip to Africa?"(1). He takes this journey to rationalize all the bad habits he has accumulated in his life, thinking that Africa presents a stable society that will explain all of his urges and actions. Instead, he finds quite the opposite, as society becomes the oppressor. Through Henderson's experience, that he has defeated his goal to justify his life. In the words of Frank D. McConnell "The rationality he discovers, then, is a rationality which condemns his own egoism, even though it is his very egoism, his heroic insistence in seeing things through, which leads him to the discovery of that rationality"(34). On his quest to find purity in the savage and common people, Henderson is defeated, and he is reminded of Hobbes' philosophy, that people are born evil, and must strive to become good. Henderson, who believed the opposite and had his own naive ideas of such cultures must overcome his previous perceptions and make sense of his purpose and place in the world. In his quest for self achievement and moral victory, his lack of love and respect for those that cared for him were his greatest enemy. He ends with the realization that in order to find the greatest meaning in life, you must love people back and embrace life.

 

        Henderson's love for a young orphaned boy helps him recognize what he was missing in his life. Love was what was missing in his life. Henderson is cured from his blind pursuit of moral victories by the innocent young orphan who has given him something to believe in. His unselfish love for the boy has allowed him to defeat Hobbes' theory, and go on living: "I held him close to my chest. He didn't seem to be afraid that I would fall with him. While to me he [the boy] was like medicine applied, and the air, too; it also was a remedy. Plus the happiness that I expected at Idlewild from meeting Lily"(Henderson 340). Henderson has found a way to forgive himself, and now has hope for the future. He has achieved his victory, and love has given him a reason to go on.

 

    Usually Bellow's characters, such as  Asa Leventhal, are victims of society. Levanthal was dealt cards that were not a winning hand, yet he played them anyway. Henderson was given the right cards, but he made the wrong decisions. He could not live with himself without finding a purpose.  In Saul Bellow's Seize the Day Tommy Wilhelm is a victim of himself. He wishes to become a salesman, an actor, and a stockbroker. He wants to make something of his life, but he has to overcome too much. Helen Weinberg suggests that Tommy is "too human, too simple a man-he is a slob or a schlemiel, and he suffers for it"(62). Tommy has had problems with his father's lack of understanding what he wanted or what he wished to be. He is not willing to acknowledge his problems, but instead he finds fault with others. He blames society, he blames his ex-wife, and he blames his father for not believing in him. Tommy never accepts the fact that it was his own laziness and inadequacy that kept him from the things he wanted, until the very end when we see hope for Tommy. Wilhelm goes to a funeral and cries: "Standing a little apart, Wilhelm began to cry. He cried at first softly from sentiment, but soon from deeper feeling. He sobbed loudly and his face grew distorted and hot, and tears strung from his skin" (Seize ,117). Tommy gives up his need for just a moment, and realizes for a split second when faced with death, that he must prevail, he must overcome himself. In that moment, Tommy realizes it is not society and life holding him back but his own lifestyle. He is no longer so selfish that he is unwilling to go on. He has hope, and he has respect for life. Tommy's victory over himself is subtle. We are not convinced that Tommy will succeed, but we are presented with hope for him. To Tommy, hope is something he never has had before, and in Bellow's world, hope is all you will ever need. Hope leads to belief in yourself, despite your faults, bad luck, and obstacles in your path.

 

        As Rita Jacobs analyzes Bellow's intent "the central purpose of his fiction has been to respond to modern man's desire 'to be and in that be-ing know a true direction'"( Brucker 6). Bellow shows us that no matter what faults and problems one faces, these problems are only what you make of them. He believes in the ability to overcome all odds through hope in oneself. Bellow stresses the importance of order and a set path in life. Bellow's characters all have common characteristics. One of the most prevalent is that they create their own problems. Henderson can not live with who he is but must reach for something more. Asa Leventhal cannot accept society or those around him. He seeks instead to place blame on others. Tommy lacks self confidence and self-respect. However, they find a will to go on. Whether it takes a small child, a trip to Africa, or the realization that society is not to blame, these characters march on and face their fate. For Bellow's protagonists, life is what we make of it, never what it makes of us.

 

 

Work Cited

Bellow, Saul. Henderson The Rain King. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1958.

_____. Seize the Day. London: Penguin, 1956.

_____. The Victim. New York: Vanguard Press, 1947.

Brucker, Carl. Saul Bellow

http://home.rochester.rr.com/biffio/mark/mkell.html#Brucker

McConnell, Frank B. four postwar american novelists. Chicago: Chicago University, 1977.

Rovit, Earl. Saul Bellow. New York: American Writers, 1974.

Rubin, Derek. Marginality in Saul Bellow's Early Novels: From Dangling Man to Herzog http://www.let.ruu.nl/nasa/rubimarg.htm, 1995.

Weinberg, Helen. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University, 1970.

Kramer, Victor A. Saul Bellow World Book, 1999.

 
Return to 123HelpMe.com