Study Questions for Seize the Day [1956] by Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow's Seize the Day, like Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, presents us with an unheroic hero of the middle class struggling to survive in the context of postwar anxiety. As you read the novel, you might consider how the pressures and desires driving Tommy Wilhelm parallel those driving Willy Loman, and other characters central to the Miller and even Tennessee Williams plays. Do these literary works evoke a tension between the surface appearance of American life and hidden conflicts, passions beneath the surface? If so, through their address to "character," do these works respond to the function of art as Bellow defines it in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech? Here are a few questions to consider regarding Bellow's comments in that speech and his novel:

The Nobel Prize Lecture

Cynthia Ozick's "Introduction" to Seize the Day