Seize the Day Summary
Seize the Day may be a literary novel by Bellow. Published in 1956, it received a nomination for the 1957 National Book Award for Fiction. The book spans at some point, following a jaded man as he searches for his purpose in life. Critics praise the book for its depiction of humanity. Bellow was a bestselling writer known for his short plays and novels. He won various awards, including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize and therefore the International Literary Prize. During WWII, he served within the Merchant Marines, and he later worked for Newsday as a correspondent.
The protagonist, Tommy Wilhelm, is an unhappy forty-something-year-old man living in NY City together with his father, Dr. Adler. They sleep in the Hotel Gloriana on the Upperside. Tommy’s neighbors are elderly and frail, and he doesn’t have many friends. He doesn’t have any romantic prospects and he often feels alone. Approaching fifty, Tommy never imagined his life arising in this manner.
As the novel opens, Tommy plans to require breakfast together with his father on the twenty-third floor. On the way, he stops, staring into a newspaper stand and contemplating his life. A failed actor, he subsequently made bad investments within the stock exchange. quite anything, Tommy wants God to offer him another chance to prove himself.
Before Tommy faces Dr. Adler at breakfast, he retrieves his mail—overdue bills and debt letters. Tommy doesn’t have any money, then he hides the letters before Dr. Adler sees them. By the time Tommy reaches the restaurant, he’s tired and miserable. there’s no chance to take a seat down before Dr. Adler criticizes his clothes and his appearance. Tommy despairs because his father is cruel and unfeeling, but there’s no point in arguing with him.
Another man, Mr. Perls, joins them for breakfast. Dr. Adler introduces his son as an ex-salesman for a prestigious company. This impresses Mr. Perls, albeit it makes Tommy cringe. He hates it when his father talks about him because the conversation always circles back to Tommy’s poor career choices. He knows he shouldn’t have left the cushy sales job—he doesn’t need Dr. Adler’s constant reminders.
Eventually, Mr. Perls leaves the table. Dr. Adler complains because Tommy isn’t taking care of himself. He doesn’t wash properly and he’s lazy. He spends all his money to his ex-wife, Margaret, who is bleeding him dry. Dr. Adler advises him to prevent sending her support payment and return to the marital home instead. Margaret’s influence, Dr. Adler says, is sweet for him.
Tommy cannot stand Margaret and he doesn’t decide to head home. He admits that he cheated on her because he doesn’t love her anymore. Ashamed of Tommy, Dr. Adler tells him to go away to the table. He won’t give Tommy any financial help because only no-good men cheat their wives. Dr. Adler acts as if he’s perfect all the time, and Tommy hates him for it.
In the meantime, Dr. Tamkin arrives. Tamkin holds an influence of attorney over Tommy’s dwindling savings. If Tommy’s latest land investment falls through, there won’t be any money left for Tamkin to manage. Tamkin takes everything in his stride because he’s an endless optimist and he enjoys studying Tommy’s pessimistic personality.
Tamkin finally tells Tommy to prevent worrying because it’s no good for the soul. He drags Tommy right down to the brokerage office to ascertain how the investments are going. Some prices are down, but others hold steady. Tamkin explains that he recently invested some money during a hedge of rye, and this could offset some unexpected losses. Tommy wonders why he gives Tamkin such a lot of power over his finances because his investments never end up well.
Buoyed by a morning at the brokerage office, Tamkin takes Tommy for lunch. They mention Margaret, Dr. Adler, and Olive, Tommy’s mistress. Tommy loves Olive but he cannot divorce Margaret. After distracting Tommy with life and love advice, Tamkin leaves Tommy with the expensive lunch bill before excusing himself temporarily.
An hour approximately passes, and Tamkin never returns. Tommy gives up waiting and heads back to the brokerage office. Here, everything falls apart. The rye price dropped, and now there’s nothing left. Tommy is officially bankrupt. Tamkin disappeared without a trace because he had always planned to waste Tommy’s money.
Broken and penniless, Tommy returns to the hotel. He begs his father to hide this month’s rent bill, but Dr. Adler refuses. He says that it’s time Tommy went home to Margaret or got a correct job. Tommy calls Margaret, but all she cares about is maintenance money. She doesn’t want him home unless he returns to the sales job.
Tommy cannot stand the thought of working in sales again, then he hangs up the phone. He recognizes that he’s alone within the world. nobody cares what happens to him. He wanders the streets, finding himself trapped during a funeral procession. When he realizes the deceased is barely older than him, he sees his own life passing him by. Now, he must seize the day.
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