American Literature

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American Literature

Journal Writing

Tabish Jaleel Shaikh

March 10(Saul Bellow- Seize the Day)

Seize the Day was a comparatively easy read, and seemed like a very real life depiction of American life, from the eyes of the two generations, Tommy Wilhelm and his father, Dr. Adler. Comparing it to one of the first novels I read in this course, Death of a Salesman, I realize that Seize the Day also has the theme of the broken myth of the American dream embedded in the story.

Also the title of the novel struck me at first, but I could not remember where I had read or come across this phrase before. Upon searching online, I remembered that it has its origin in one of the poems of a Latin Poet Horace, the word being “Carpe diem” in Latin. I remembered that I had read this back in high school, the stanza of the poem was:  

While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled

Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.

It’s interesting how just a small phrase can carry so much meaning. Saul Bellow has very effectively depicted the philosophy of carpe diem by narrating a real life scenario of war stricken America where maximizing the utility of time is the very important.

Although the theme of alienation and isolation is prevalent throughout the book through Tommy’s life events, Saul could not make me feel sympathetic towards Tommy. Tommy’s inability to judge himself, and be self-aware of his strengths and weaknesses causes his downfall. He is always reluctant to confront his failures, and does not have the courage to make the final step. He is not just isolated from his family, but isolated from himself in essence, by not letting himself know his true self. His life would have been less of a burden, if he was true to himself, and brave enough to confront and accept his failures and do something to set things right instead of relying on his father.

March 12 (Saul Bellow - Seize the Day)

One of the other dominating themes of the...