Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Manhattan

*Manhattan. Borough of New York City in which most of the novella’s action takes place, particularly among the fashionable neighborhoods near Broadway in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. During a single day, Tommy Wilhelm remembers growing up in his family home on West End Avenue, visits the brokerage house where his commodities are losing value, eats lunch with Dr. Tamkin in a nearby cafeteria, takes old Mr. Rappaport to a cigar store—all familiar locations on the Upper West Side in the 1950’s.

Gloriana

Gloriana. Aging Manhattan hotel. The major characters here, Tommy, his father (Dr. Adler), and his enigmatic advisor (Tamkin), all live at the Gloriana. Tommy spends time talking with Rubin at his newsstand in the lobby, eating breakfast with his father and then Tamkin in the dining room, and finally chasing Dr. Adler into the subterranean massage room where the father rejects his son. Housing mostly retired Jewish men and women, the Gloriana is contrasted with the Ansonia, a hotel built by turn-of-the-century architect Stanford White.

*Brooklyn

*Brooklyn. New York City borough that is home to Wilky’s family, his former wife and two sons. While it has been a site of much of Wilky’s suffering, it is also the location of Ebbets Field, where Wilky has taken his boys on happier days to watch the Dodgers play baseball.

*Los Angeles

*Los Angeles. Southern California home of Hollywood and the scene of Tommy’s first failure, in the 1930’s, when, lured by the idea of easy money, he goes to the West Coast hoping for a career as an actor, and there changes his name from Wilhelm Adler to Tommy Wilhelm.

Funeral parlor

Funeral parlor. Scene of Tommy’s final epiphany. At the end of the novel, searching for the elusive Tamkin, Tommy is pushed by a crowd into a funeral parlor, observes the corpse, and sobs. In Saul Bellow’s symbolic prose, Tommy achieves some kind of catharsis.

Seize the Day Historical Context

Middle-Class Family Life and Suburbia in the 1950s
In the wake of World War II, middle-class life in the 1950s was relatively...

(The entire section is 644 words.)

Seize the Day Literary Style

Point of View
The third-person, limited omniscient point of view in Seize the Day provides a balanced view of the actions...

(The entire section is 898 words.)

Seize the Day Literary Techniques

The third-person, limited omniscient point of view in Seize the Day provides a balanced view of the actions of the characters while...

(The entire section is 877 words.)

Seize the Day Ideas for Group Discussions

In Seize the Day, Bellow explores themes of victimization, alienation, and human connection.

1. Discuss the character of...

(The entire section is 134 words.)

Seize the Day Compare and Contrast

1950s: In spite of a generally positive attitude toward capitalism, American participation in the stock market was not widespread,...

(The entire section is 291 words.)

Seize the Day Topics for Further Study

Research middle-class marriage in the 1950s. What roles were married men and women expected to play, and how successful was this model?

...

(The entire section is 99 words.)

Seize the Day Literary Precedents

Bellow's first novel, Dangling Man (1944), is written as the diary of the twenty-seven-year-old protagonist, Joseph, who is left...

(The entire section is 93 words.)

Seize the Day Related Titles

The Adventures of Augie March (1953) represented a change in style and tone for Bellow. The narrator and protagonist Augie March...

(The entire section is 119 words.)

Seize the Day Adaptations

Seize the Day was adapted in 1986 as a film featuring Robin Williams, Joseph Wiseman, Jerry Stiller, and Glenne Headly, and with a...

(The entire section is 47 words.)

Seize the Day Media Adaptations

Seize the Day was adapted in 1986 as a film featuring Robin Williams, Joseph Wiseman, Jerry Stiller, and Glenne Headly, and with a...

(The entire section is 45 words.)

Seize the Day What Do I Read Next?

Bellow's first novel, Dangling Man (1944), is written as the diary of the 27-year-old protagonist, Joseph, who is left "dangling" as...

(The entire section is 394 words.)

Seize the Day Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Braham, Jeanne. A Sort of Columbus. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984. Examines Bellow’s novels as centering on the theme of discovery and how his heroes pursue a personal vision tempered by, yet transcending, the American experience.

Clayton, John. Saul Bellow: In Defense of Man. 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979. Discusses Bellow’s characters as alienated and paranoid, yet acting in such a way as to affirm the brotherhood of man.

Newman, Judie. Saul Bellow and History. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984. Provides a summary of critical opinions of Bellow’s religious...

(The entire section is 179 words.)

Seize the Day Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources
Robert Baker, "Bellow Comes of Age," in Chicago Review, Vol. 11, 1957, pp. 107-10.

Robert R. Dutton,...

(The entire section is 397 words.)