The Victim Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Asa Leventhal

Asa Leventhal, who works as an editor of a trade paper. He finds his life turned upside down in a matter of days. While Asa’s wife, Mary, is out of town visiting relatives, Asa receives a call from his brother’s wife, Elena, who is also alone. Her husband, Max, has gone to Texas for a better job. Elena’s son Mickey is sick, and she asks Asa for help. Over the next few days, Mickey grows worse and dies. At the same time, Asa meets a seedy alcoholic, Kirby Allbee, who blames his downfall on Asa. Years before, using Kirby as a reference, Asa had a job interview with Kirby’s employer, Mr. Rudiger. During the interview, Asa had argued rudely with Rudiger. Shortly afterward, Kirby was fired, and he thinks that Asa’s outburst with his boss started his problems, which also include the death of his wife in an accident. Asa is at first irritated with Kirby’s constant appearances and requests for help, but he is gradually overwhelmed by a growing sense of responsibility for Kirby. When Kirby is thrown out of his rooming house, Asa takes him in. Kirby wants to reverse his fate by the same device that caused it; he asks Asa to introduce him to an acquaintance in the hope of landing a job. Asa catches Kirby in his bed with a woman and throws him out, but Kirby sneaks back in and tries to gas himself while Asa is sleeping. Gradually, Asa becomes crushed by the weight of his guilt—guilt over what he did or Kirby imagines he did, guilt...

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The Victim Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Bradbury, Malcolm. Saul Bellow. New York: Methuen, 1982.

Braham, Jeanne. A Sort of Columbus: The American Voyages of Saul Bellow’s Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984.

Cronin, Gloria L., and Leila H. Goldman, eds. Saul Bellow in the 1980’s: A Collection of Critical Essays. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1989.

Cronin, Gloria L., and Ben Siegel, eds. Conversations with Saul Bellow. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994.

Goldman, L. H. Saul Bellow: A Mosaic. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.

Hyland, Peter. Saul Bellow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

Newman, Judie. Saul Bellow and History. London: Macmillan, 1984.

Siegel, Ben. “Simply Not a Mandarin: Saul Bellow as Jew and Jewish Writer.” In Traditions, Voices, and Dreams: The American Novel Since the 1960’s. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995.

Trachtenberg, Stanley, comp. Critical Essays on Saul Bellow. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1979.