Monday, November 28, 2011

A Silver DIsh Saul Bellow

This piece of writing, can be summarized as being about the character named Woody. Woody is the story's protagonist, that is at the current age of sixty. He has had success working as an businessman and being the owner of a title distributing company. He lives alone, in an apartment on the top floor of the company. However, the main plot of the story is that he reflects on the life of his father and him. His father had been named Morris "pop" Selbst, and had died earlier in the week. Woody also thinks about his two, weak-willed sisters that still live at home. Despite the fact, that his sisters are middle-aged women now. Also, his mother comes to mind. She had converted to the Catholic religion, and as an result, had hastened his father to leave the home. Woody also reflected on his wife, whom he has been seperated from for the past fifteen years. Woody also remembers his mistress Helen, whom he had had engagements with for an while.
Lastly, Woody reflects on his father's mistress Halina; whom his father left to be with when Woody was only fifteen. They had spent an total of forty years together. Woody also reflected on how Sundays were the day, that his father and him had spent together. It is important to know, that this story had been based during the time of the Great Depression. So for an family like Woody's, they were prone to experience much poverty and harshships.
One question that came to mind, was that I wonder if Saul Bellow had based this story off of personal experiences or not?. Due to the fact that he was an Jewish man from Canada and the characters in his story was Jewish as well, I wonder if he was drawing off of personal experiences while writing or not? One connection that I had to other readings, was that this short story made me think about the fact, that I have read few stories written by Jewish writers. Upon reseaching the author, I learned that Saul Bellow had been an Jewish writer. I will most likely read more Jewish literature in the future. The only other Jewish writer whose works that I have read, had been written by writer Jodi Picoult. And, she is an nonpracticing Jew. So I will most likely be reading more Jewish literature in the future, if I get the chance to. Lastly, when it comes to how I could apply this to my own personal experiences, I would have to say that this story made me think about how Woody went against his better judgement, just to be able to help his father.  Woody had lost the opportunity to have his tuition paid for, becuase of the indulgences of his father. That is why Woody begans to gradually distance himself away from Morris. I have met many people in my own life, that have had an situation similiar to Woody. This is due to the fact, that Woody is determined to help his father out for the sake of love.
Lastly, I felt as though this was an very unusual story. I have never read stories by or have heard of Saul Bellow before. So this story took me several times to reread, to make sure that I was fully grasping what was actually occuring.


  1. I would like to make, several comments about the discussion concerning this short story. One factor, is that Woody is one character that has little choice in life, but to remain were he is at. He could have been like his Dad and simply left his family behind. However, Woody chooses to stay, while his Dad had chosen to leave the home. Also, Woody is one person that has had to take care of everyone else is whole life. He has had to give up his life, basically for the sake of others. Also, even though Woody has had success in life, he is still alone. Lastly, it is important to note that his father had been abandoned when he was younger. However, it doesn't seem right or justifiable, that his father had to do the same to his family. Also, one msut note that there was religious differences that factored into the story. Woody's father had been an Jewish man. Likewise, Woody's mother was an Christian woman. Since this story was based during the Great Depression, many families were struggling to survive and be able to feed their families. Morris did not feel like he was doing his duty of providing for his family. Therefore, Morris figured that if his family was put on welfare, they would be able to get enough food to survive off of. Morris has an gambling problem, and has wasted money on this addiction. At the end of the story, the reader reads about the death of an character. The life that is lost, is the life of his father Morris. There is an almost spiritual struggle, as Woody tried to restrain him father, from pulling the IV needles out of his arm. Woody is struggling, to be able to keep his father alive. One msut ask themselves "Why does Woody what to keep his father alive, after what he has done to Woody"? It is almost as though, Woody wants to keep his father from getting his way one last time.

  2. Let’s now attempt to examine some characters as they appear more or less sequentially in the novel, and take a look at the thoughts that go through Corde’s mind about each, and into which of James’ two groups they may be placed. Some characters, such as the Colonel or the Ambassador, obviously go into a category without much need for analysis of their thoughts and actions; others, such as Minna and Vlada Voynich, are actually hybrid personalities exhibiting strong signs of both personality designations.