Study Guide

Herzog What's Up With the Ending?

By Saul Bellow

What's Up With the Ending?

He wanted to tell her to sprinkle the floor. She was raising too much dust. In a few minutes he would call down to her, "Damp it down, Mrs. Tuttle. There's water in the sink" But not just yet. At this time he had no messages for anyone. Nothing. Not a single word. (9.211)

Woo-hoo! Break out the champagne and the confetti! Blow on the vuvuzelas! No, it's not New Year's Eveā€¦ it's Herzog finally shutting up and shutting down. "Not a single word" is a huge departure from the four hundred pages of, well, words that Herzog has been spouting. He's finally getting (and giving) some peace and quiet.

It's also important that Herzog ends this book preparing his Berkshire house for a visit from his new lover, Ramona. Herzog hasn't been sure about getting together with Ramona throughout the book, but now it looks like he's making an effort to please her. In a lot of ways, Herzog's cleaning of his old house is symbolic. Like the house, Herzog needs to fix himself up and make himself loveable once again.

Herzog has spent the majority of this book writing anxious letters in his head and confessing how bad he feels about being a failure. This letter writing has always been directly connected to Herzog's sense of anxiety. But now at the end of the book, we see for the first time that Herzog is able to live in the moment and that he has "no messages for anyone." Herzog has recovered some inner sense of peace that we haven't seen in him throughout this entire novel.

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