Dr. Adler in Seize the Day

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Seize the Day is a notable literary work by Saul Bellow. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Seize the Day.


Dr. Adler

Dr. Adler is a significant character in Saul Bellow‘s (1915-2005) novella “Seize the Day.” As the estranged father of the protagonist, Tommy Wilhelm. Dr. Adler plays a significant role in shaping the narrative’s themes of identity, disillusionment, and the American dream.

Dr. Adler is presented as a complex figure. We can understand his characteristics through Tommy’s perspective, which is inherently inflexible. Tommy often condemns his father. He portrays Dr. Adler as a cold and unsympathetic figure. He interprets his father’s actions, such as withholding financial assistance, as acts of cruelty. However, the reader must constantly question whether Tommy’s interpretation of Adler is accurate, given his emotional turmoil and tendency to misunderstand his father’s intentions.

Dr. Adler’s character is that he represents a clash of generational values. Adler embodies the traditional American ideals of hard work, success, and rationalism, displaying the “self-made man” ethos. His beliefs are rooted in an older America that experienced the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II. In contrast, Tommy, who came of age in a post-war, post-depression, and technologically advancing world, holds more naturalistic and idealistic values.

This fundamental difference in perspective leads to conflicts and misunderstandings between father and son. Dr. Adler’s actions, such as his refusal to bail out Tommy financially, might be motivated by a desire for Tommy to learn self-reliance and face his problems independently. This can be seen as a reflection of Adler’s belief in the Protestant work ethic and self-sufficiency.