Father-Son Relationship in Seize the Day

Question: Discuss the father-son relationship in Seize the Day. Father-Son Relationship in Seize the Day


Saul Bellow (1915 – 2005), the winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature, is one of the most prominent post-war novelists who successfully wrote his masterpiece, ‘Seize the Day’, published in 1958, as a materialistic relation to modern European countries and American society in the context of father and son. It is the story of Tommy Wilhelm, the protagonist of the novel, whose life is shattered by the need for the love of a father named Dr. Adler, who is unable to give his son love.

Absence of passion

The novel ‘Seize the Day’ focuses on Tommy Wilhelm, an incompetent and conventional middle-aged man, a complete failure, and a desperate man. He is lonely, depressed, not only from society but also from friends and his wife. In his relationship with his father, Tommy is metaphorically an orphan. In his case, his father is an elderly, wealthy, successful Dr. Adler – physically present but mentally far away. Dr. Adler refuses to engage in her son’s desperate loneliness.

Starkly dissatisfactory

Family is the central theme of Tommy’s life. However, it is here that he has experienced a taste of isolation from everyone around him except his mother. In fact, the father-son relationship becomes extremely complicated in the Tommy-Dr. Adler relationship. Tommy seems to oppose his father in almost every measure. To Dr. Adler, love is of little importance; What counts is a success, financial success. Tommy does not receive the love and emotional support; he expects from his father, as well as financial support.

Persuasion and rejection

Tommy’s relationship with his father is not a source of comfort but a source of pain. Tommy’s whole life is a series of failures. He has certainly made mistakes that his father can never stop forgetting. Dr. Adler, from whom Tommy hops for financial help or at least some sign of sympathy, but receives nothing but selfish advice; ‘Carry nobody on your back.’ He pleads with his father for love but Dr. Adler sprawls himself and rejects his son.

Ostentatious passionate relationship

Mentally and financially weak, Tommy grabs Dr. Tamkin like a sinking lifeboat. Tommy doesn’t seem to find sensitivity and insight in his father which he finds in Tamkin. However, here Tommy also faces a big blow from his ideal godfather, Tamkin, because of his indifference to Tamkin’s faults.


In conclusion, there is no denying the fact that “Seize the Day” is a modern psychological study of the fragile bonds of twentieth-century family life where the father-son relationship is clearly presented. However, the story does not end in pieces but with a view of the oneness of all towards the perfection of one’s union with God, a personality that is traditionally regarded as the father of mankind.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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