In The Bellarosa Connection, why does Billy Rose refuse to meet Fonstein? Is the memory of the Holocaust too painful for Billy Rose?

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In Saul Bellow's novella The Bellarosa Connection, Harry Fonstein desperately desires to meet Billy Rose, the man responsible for saving his life from the Nazi regime. Billy Rose, however, has no desire whatsoever to meet the man he saved. In an exchange with Fonstein's wife, Billy Rose blatantly shows his indifference: "Remember—forget. What's the difference to me? [...] Lady, this is one of a trillion incidents in a life like mine. Why should I re-collect it?" (53). In a blatant sense Rose is not interested in meeting, let alone acknowledging Fonstein's wish to thank him because such an act was not unique within the context of his life.

Rose's life revolved around being a celebrity, and though his actions helped many Jews, it is evident that he had reached his limit insofar as the Holocaust was concerned. This sentiment is clear when he tells Fonstein's wife that he had already done all he could—his days of being a benefactor or savior were over. Essentially, Rose did not view the Holocaust as uniquely painful because he was too embroiled in resentment towards those who could have done more. Thus, meeting Fonstein, or any other person whom he had saved, would serve as a reminder of that very fact.

Works Cited

Bellow, Saul. The Bellarosa Connection. New York, N.Y. : Penguin, 1989. Print.

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