Funeral Scene 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.


Funeral Scene

Seize the Day,” published in 1956, is a masterpiece novella by Saul Bellow (1915-2005). The novel explores the financial and emotional struggles of a middle-aged man, Tommy Wilhelm, who becomes an utter failure.

At the novella’s end, Wilhelm loses his last savings in the stock market. The manipulative Dr. Tamkin has deceived him. Wilhelm’s story ends with a funeral scene where he “cries with all his heart” before a dead stranger.  The dead stranger leads him to a complete rebirth, self-realization, and finding his language.

In the funeral scene, it is the first time in the novel that he simply gives in to the moment and his emotions. His tears at this unknown person’s funeral indicate that he has recognized his failures.

He… sank deeper than sorrow… toward the consummation of his heart’s ultimate need

Tommy experiences a moment of acceptance and clarity. He realizes his pursuit of financial success and societal validation has been misguided. He starts to let go of his attachment to material success and begins to understand the value of the ordinary. Tommy’s self-realization is evident when he cries seeing an unknown dead person at a funeral parlour.

Tommy cries in the funeral parlour and releases all his pain and frustration. Expression and self-acceptance are what he has needed all along, breaking through the mask forced on him by modern urban life.