Study Guide

Herzog Family

By Saul Bellow

Family

It's fair to say that Moses Herzog has had a complicated family life, both as an adult and as a child. For starters, he's been divorced twice and both his ex-wives hate his guts. Also, he grew up with a really mean dad in a poor household.

But in spite of all that, Herzog understands that for all its flaws, family has the potential to give a person support when things look their bleakest. His brother Willie, for example, is the only man by the end of this book who's willing to put his life on hold to support Herzog. That being said, don't go looking for any shiny, idealistic portraits of family life in Herzog… because you won't find any.

Questions About Family

  1. How does Herzog's family life growing up affect his later life? What evidence can you put forward?
  2. Does this book blame anyone in particular for the breaking up of Herzog's two families (with Daisy and Madeleine)? If so, who?
  3. This book doesn't show many examples of a good, united family; but does it go so far as to suggest that this concept of family is dumb and unrealistic? How so? How not so?

Chew on This

In Herzog, we find that it's possible to love members of your family even when you don't like them.

Herzog shows us that in the end, we're all alone in this world. Even our closest family members have their own lives to live and won't always be there for us.

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