A Silver Dish Questions and Answers
by Saul Bellow

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How suspense is created in "A Silver Dish"? How does the setting reflect the character's inner conflict?

In Saul Bellow's "A Silver Dish," suspense is created by keeping readers guessing about what Woody's dad will do. They know he is a "dangerous person." Yet before they can witness his recklessness, they must learn about Woody's family, endure a blizzard, and go on a trolley ride and a long walk. The tempestuous settings reflect Woody's inner conflict. We could say that it's Woody's part-Christian and part-Jewish makeup that creates the dicey situation in the first place.

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In Saul Bellow's short story "A Silver Dish," we could say that suspense is created through delay.

What's the most suspenseful part of the story? For us, it's in Mrs. Skoglund's mansion, where Woody has to ask her for money so that his dad can repay the bookie and a “goon” doesn't break his head open.

Does this scene happen right away? Does Bellow take us there in a straight, linear fashion? We don't think so.

We know Woody's dad is a "dangerous person." Dr. Kovner tells him so. We're almost certain something bad and disreputable is going to happen. We just don't know what it is. Bellow maintains the...

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