What are Saul Bellow‘s More Die of Heartbreak’s attitudes toward women? Why? How do Kenneth’s and Benn’s relationships with women shape their lives?
Kenneth is a highly educated but socially confused young man who was trying to understand love. He desires Treckie, the woman who prefers bad guys. Kenneth cannot understand why Treckie wants to be with a man who treats her badly yet does not understand that he also wants someone who is not right for him. Furthermore, Kenneth also does not understand why Uncle Benn likewise desires a woman who is wrong for him.
The novel views women with a sense of awe and bewilderment, as if they are some sort of mysterious yet highly valuable creatures. It seems to me that the lack of understanding between Kenneth and Benn and their women comes primarily from the fact that both of them are too cerebral and are not in touch with themselves. What I mean is that Kenneth does not know who he is and he does not really understand himself and his desires. As a result, he’s unable to understand Treckie or Benn or anyone else.
How would you describe Bellow’s literary style? Pick a favorite passage and discuss it.
Bellow’s writing reminds me a lot of Woody Allen. The protagonist is analytical and self-obsessed (in a good way) and genuinely trying and failing to understand the world around him. He goes off on tangents that mimic rambling thoughts and reveal more about Kenneth and his worldview than just about anything else. The narrative is presented in pieces which are both confusing and illustrative. I really enjoyed the literary/ philosophical observations and discussions. These discussions show Kenneth to be someone who has an intimate connection with the world that exists in books yet he is not always able to apply what he learns from books to what is going on in the real world. This is unfortunate because the books he reads offer him a lot of wisdom and one would think that he would not get in as much trouble if he actually analyzed them properly. Perhaps, the real problem is that though he analyzes himself all the time he doesn’t really learn anything from it.