Study Guide

Herzog Marriage

By Saul Bellow

Marriage

The life of Moses E. Herzog doesn't offer a ringing endorsement for marriage. The guy's been divorced twice and neither relationship ended even nicely. It's not as though Herzog is saying that marriage in general is dumb, but it is saying that marriage is tough and complicated.

People might be totally compatible when they're first married, but it's naïve to think that they'll remain the same people for the rest of their lives. Some people grow closer together over time and some grow farther apart. Or some just dislike each other and stay together anyway. Herzog's deal is that he keeps going for the next, newest, shiniest girl… but is kind of confused when his wife leaves him for a new, handsome man.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Which of Moses Herzog's two marriages was worse? Why?
  2. Do you think Herzog should marry Ramona? Why or why not?
  3. Why does Herzog decide to leave Madeleine and Val alone and let his divorce take its course?
  4. Why do you think Herzog married Madeleine instead of Sono Oguki? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.

Chew on This

In Herzog, Saul Bellow basically says that the entire institution of marriage is an unrealistic sham.

In Herzog, we learn that giving up on a marriage too easily will only result in a life of loneliness.

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