Many novels of the past few decades have been characterized by themes which special importance human freedom, insurrection, fatalism, mechanical necessity and obsession, because of the tendency of modern hero. The changing eras in the cultural and literary of mankind have seen various figurations of the hero from the divine and super human to the disillusioned and the dying hero. The conventional heroes were numerable men endowed with unusual power, skill and capacity. Their lines were distinguished by their great actions and sacrifices. Their lives were marked by greater troubles and difficulties which they overcome and finally established themselves as heroes. These heroes have now ...view middle of the document...
Resign themselves to a life of uncertainty absurd existence, or rebellion and spend the greater part of their lines explaining their unexplained life situations with the turgid and what are becoming the too familiar clichés of the isolated, introspective, or rebellious hero.
A literary proverb holds that every writer has but one story to tell. It is more accurate to say that every writer is compelled by a single issue. The novelist’s plots and characters, however different, express the same human he continually struggles to solve a problem that haunts him. This problem is personal, of course, but it is also in the novelist who commands our attention a reflection of the larger society.
The hero in Modern American fiction dedicated to the task of affirms the sense of human life. Novelists like Bellow, Mailer, Salinger, Ellison, Baldwin and Updike portray in their novels, heroes as confused and alienated beings and they are interested in self-analysis and eager to rebel against the established system of society.
Saul Bellow occupies a distinct place of his own in contemporary American fiction. His contribution to American literature has been considerable and the characters he has created have firmly established themselves in American imagination. Bellow depicts the plight of the individual in an impersonal mechanical society. There is the juxtaposition of a static society and the organic individual.
Bellow’s heroes find the complexities of their dilemma not only in alienation from society but they are also confronted by a kind of treason within themselves. The heroes are troubled by the strong sense of self. Society is indifferent to them. But its mysteries are not beyond their comprehension they to learn of its nature. Bellow is of the view that the novelists in the past have failed to catch the positive factor in the human equation of the being in itself versus the being for itself.
Bellow opines that any depiction of man should grant him the power to rise above the indignities of complete subjection to unseen and unknown forces. Bellow pleases for a higher and better perspective of man. In almost all his novels Bellow pursues the question of what it is to be fully human in an impersonal world. He represents the wretchedness and the absurdity of man’s condition in the modern world and his many failures. He has not been content to dwell upon this wretchedness alone, for no matter how absurd the protagonists may appear, Bellow portrays them as being interesting in themselves. This interest leads the striving heroes of his novels not towards a goal of success but towards an acceptance of the dignity of life. They can never relinquish their faith that the value of life depends of its dignity and not on its success. In spite of the absurdity of the condition the heroes maintain faith in them, and in the dignity of life.
Bellow’s heroes share many common qualities. They are caught between the everlasting ‘yes’ and the eternal ‘No’. They live in...