Study Guide

Herzog Chapter 2

By Saul Bellow

Chapter 2

  • Herzog grabs a cab for the train station. He's trying to get out of town to avoid Ramona, remember. While riding, Herzog thinks about the strange relationship Madeleine's parents have with one another. The two are divorced, but they still hang out a lot.
  • Next, Herzog thinks about visiting his lawyer, Simkin. The first thing Simkin said in their last meeting was that Madeleine's mother was offended that Herzog hadn't come to visit her in a while. Which is pretty awkward, seeing as how Herzog's marriage with Madeleine ended.
  • The traffic is bad, but Herzog finally makes it to the train station. The long ride has given him the opportunity to think back on the trains of his childhood.
  • While waiting for his train at the station, Herzog picks up a copy of the New York Times and thinks about marrying Ramona, even though he's trying to get away from her. He looks up from his paper and sees a woman staring his way. He decides instantly that he doesn't like this woman based on appearance alone.
  • On the train, Herzog reminisces some more about his past year. He remembers coming home from Europe and phoning Madeleine. But she hung up on him, and, since there was no on else to call, Herzog phoned up Madeleine's aunt Zelda and hung out with her.
  • When they talked about Madeleine, Zelda assured Herzog that Madeleine had once loved him. But Madeleine eventually fell out of love, which is something that (according to Zelda) happens all the time.
  • Zelda goes on to enlighten Herzog about all of the flaws he might not know he has. From Madeleine's perspective, Herzog was always too self-obsessed, demanding, and stubborn. Herzog agrees that all of this is true.
  • Zelda also mentions that she knows Herzog was with other women while he was married to Madeleine. Now the poor old guy doesn't look so innocent. Besides, Herzog made a big mistake by dragging Madeleine to the Berkshires to finish a massive book project—which he never actually finished.
  • Before he leaves, Zelda wants to make sure that things are still okay between them. She wants to remain his friend in spite of everything, and he agrees for them to stay friends.
  • Herzog's mind jumps to one of his buddies, a fellow professor named Lucas Asphalter. The guy was recently in the papers for trying to revive his pet monkey using mouth-to-mouth. Turns out the monkey might have had tuberculosis, which would make Asphalter insane for putting himself in such danger.
  • It was Asphalter who first told Herzog that his friend Val had gotten together with Madeleine. Worse yet, the two of them had been having an affair for a long time while Herzog and Madeleine were married.
  • For a moment, Herzog thinks about offering his vacation home to a religious organization to use for their group retreats. But he decides this is a bad idea. He continues writing a bunch of letters to various people, including the President of the United States. He meditates for a while on the tendency for leaders to abuse their power.
  • Herzog takes a break from his writing to think about his children, and he smiles. He likes to think about how love can be uncomplicated with small kids. They just love their parents: that's that.
  • Next, Herzog looks back on his relationship with a psychiatrist named Dr. Edvig. It turns out that toward the end of their marriage, Madeleine forced him to undergo psychiatric treatment. But Herzog now believes this was just a way to use Dr. Edvig to manipulate him and give Madeleine more leverage in their coming divorce.
  • Toward the end of their marriage, Madeleine accused Herzog of hiring a private detective to follow her around. But he denied it.
  • Herzog remembers one night when Madeleine attacked him for making a comment about all the old dusty books she kept in bed with her. Dr. Edvig finds the story interesting and makes a note of it.
  • Looking back, Herzog can also see how frustrated his buddy Val would get whenever he (Herzog) talked about having sex with Madeleine. This was at the same time, remember, that Val was seeing Madeleine behind Herzog's back. Not surprisingly, Val recommended at the time that Herzog and Madeleine should sleep in separate beds.
  • When Herzog first met Madeleine and started seeing her, she was a hardcore Catholic. She even forced him to come to church with her, knowing full well that he was Jewish.
  • Herzog ends the chapter by writing a letter to his psychiatrist, Dr. Edvig, accusing him of falling in love with Madeleine. For Herzog, this was all part of Madeleine's plan to manipulate Edvig and use him against Herzog.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...