Henderson The Rain King Essay

1018 words - 4 pages

Henderson the Rain King Saul Bellow "Henderson the Rain King" by Saul Bellow examines the journey of a middle- aged unhappy millionaire going through a mid-life crisis. Eugene Henderson has accumulated a large family and money yet he still feels unfulfilled. Dealing with the journey to face himself, he yearns to find the answer to the question that keeps plaguing his mind: "I want. I want." Eugene is not sure exactly what the phrase means, and he goes impulsively on a trip to Africa in hopes of supressing the voice inside of his head saying this. Eugene Henderson, an often drunken oaf of a man, great in size, has many encounters with a couple of women, each of whom he has children with. His relationships with them end up in disaster, with each of them going their separate ways. He makes life for his children and his wife very difficult, mainly because he, himself was difficult. This is basically due to Eugene's agressive and sometimes incompassionate personality. Eugene tended to be a big, open wound of a person, and he just sort of bled all over everyone around him. For better or for worse, full of joy, full of sorrow, he just made a mess of everything. Despite his seemingly general lack of concern for everyone around him, we can see into Eugene's soul and feel his innate need for emotional sustenance. Eugene's search for meaning begins after he subconsciously realizes that he's really just sleepwalking through life, when he attempts to channel ancestral spirits by playing his father's violin incessantly in his basement. After months of intense studying and practicing, he finds that he cannot supress the voice in his head that repeats "I want. I want", he then decides to spontaneously take a spiritual journey to Africa. He feels he needs a break from his family and his dreary normal existence, and feeling that "...it's the destiny of his generation of Americans to go out into the world and try to find the wisdom of life." Eugene's journey to Africa helps to further develop the story's main theme of the journey into the interior, the journey to face oneself. Eugene's search to find himself and quench his thirst to find the answer to the internal leads him seemingly far off the beaten track. When in Africa, Henderson has his guide show him remote, unusual places and different people. He meets two tribes, both of which he attempts to befriend and help. He nearly destroys the first tribe, when he breaks a main water supply in an attempt to "purify" it for them. This is the first part of the book where...

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