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Alienation, Failure and Resurrection of Tommy Wilhelm as the Nonconformist Hero of Saul Bellow

Kazal Kumar Das


The paper examines the alienated journey of Tommy Wilhelm, the protagonist as a failed man in every aspect of his life and the epiphanic moment (day of reckoning) in his life at the end of Saul Bellow’s novella Seize the Day. Tommy is depicted as a figure of isolation among crowds, a character in turmoil and a person in search of his true self. The paper shows Tommy as the predicament of modernity because of his isolation, spiritual hollowness, psychological suffering, financial crisis in materialistic society and inner struggles. The paper discovers how the materialistic society and the material attitude of people made him a complete outsider and how materialism expunges the family and human relationship. He is portrayed as a dangling man, suffering from existential crisis and is in desperate quest of identity, survival and meaningful existence. He fails, suffers and finally he is rejected everywhere as a human being. In order to free himself, Tommy must put down his mask (social control, egotism and vanity) and allow his true soul to replace the “pretender”, he must stop playing the roles he is supposed to and be the man he really is and the final element is love. The paper attempts to investigate the psychological resurrection of Tommy as the nonconformist hero in spite of his unheroic and negative qualities.
Keywords: Alienation, failure, psychological resurrection, nonconformist

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