Study Guide

Herzog Gender

By Saul Bellow

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Moses Herzog has issues with women and, as you can imagine, these issues are always connected to how he thinks of himself as a man. After all, when a guy looks at a pretty woman on a subway platform and thinks she has "b*tch eyes," it usually means that he's projecting some personal baggage that has nothing to do with that woman.

In his past, Herzog has treated women poorly and has seen them as sexual objects instead of human beings. And now that it's his turn to be thrown to the curb by his wife, he doesn't know how to handle the sudden reversal of roles. And in a lot of ways, his major struggle in Herzog is to figure out how to cope with being treated the same way he has always treated the women in his life.

Questions About Gender

  1. Do you think it's fair to label Moses Herzog as a misogynist? Why or why not?
  2. Is it possible to say that the book Herzog as a whole is anti-women? Why or why not?
  3. How do Herzog's relationships with women play into his overall goal of becoming a better person?

Chew on This

In Herzog, our main character (Moses) can trace all of his personal troubles back to the single fact that he doesn't treat women well enough.

Even when Moses Herzog thinks he's putting women on a pedestal, he's just turning them into objects for him to admire. After all, a beautiful object is still an object.

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