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Herzog

Saul Bellow

Section 5

Section 4

Section 6

Summary

In this section, Moses is woken from his letter-writing spell by the ringing phone. It is Ramona calling. She asks whether or not he went to the Berkshires, and invites him to her house. During their phone conversation, Ramona lectures Moses on self-confidence and mentions her Aunt Tamara, with whom she lives. On the subway going to Ramona's house, Moses has a moment of "communion," a connection with the rest of humanity, in another instance of what he has come to call "potato love."

Ramona cooks a grand meal for Moses and plays Egyptian music. While they are having dinner, Moses talks and talks about his problems. He talks about Madeleine, Gersbach, Phoebe, and Geraldine's letter about June, which Ramona seems to know about already. He discusses possibly visiting Chicago or being near Marco. Ramona tries to tempt Moses away from these thoughts with the prospect of sex, but while she prepares in the bathroom, more thoughts overtake him; he ponders what it means to be a modern man.

Moses and Ramona sleep together. Moses thinks of George Hoberly, Ramona's ex- boyfriend. He is an assistant television producer who pines for Ramona. He constantly sends Ramona gifts in hopes of winning her back. He also attempted suicide twice. The chapter ends with Moses describing Ramona as she sleeps.

Letters punctuate this section. Before he leaves for Ramona's, Moses writes about a monograph on the ethical ideas of American business. He writes to Eisenhower about the Cold War, among other topics, quoting from Pascal, Tolstoi, and Hegel. He discusses the process of self-awareness and the inward worlds of Americans. On the way to Ramona's house, Moses writes to a bank robber. After arriving at her house and bathing, he writes to Spinoza about the pain caused by unconnected thoughts.

Analysis

Ramona gives Moses a dose of instruction, and it becomes evident that salvation is a recurring idea. Previously, Moses was meant to be a savior for Madeleine, and here it is Ramona who wants to save Moses from himself and his troubles. Resurrection, the idea of rising from the dead, also makes an appearance here. Ramona is said to experience Easter and resurrection with Moses.

Moses becomes upset when Ramona says she does not see him as an American. "You're not a true, puritanical American," she says, and he wonders what else he is if not American. Moses says that in the service and in Chicago, his peers considered him a foreigner. Moses belongs to his Russian Jewish heritage, his American Jewish upbringing, and his American identity. This is rooted in the idea of being Jewish-American and the state of being in between two cultures, knowing each of them well and yet not fully belonging to either.

In his letter to Eisenhower, Moses explains the philosopher Hegel's idea that the "essence of human life" is "derived from history. History, memory—that is what makes us human." If we find our humanity through history, and the memory of history, Moses may be able to come to terms with his own humanity by understanding his own history. Moses also says that if he were discussing or writing up the National Aims he would have taken into account the inward lives of Americans. He says that although they are painful, the random thoughts that assail him may become his "cure," his "salvation."

In Ramona's house, there is a grand clock, made of porcelain and gold, that belongs to Aunt Tamara. Moses says that you need a permanent residence and regular habits to own this type of clock. The clock symbolizes a stability that Moses does not have. Moses realizes that this clock belongs to Aunt Tamara and not to Ramona, which means that he does not feel tempted by falsely thinking that he will find stability in marriage to Ramona.

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Herzog: a depressive scholar

by thefirstlady33, September 12, 2013

In section one, Moses Herzog is found alone in a big old house in the Berkshires, reflecting on his past, trying to come to terms with his troubled life: middle aged, twiced divorced, impotent.
He is thought to be out of his mind by Madeline, his ex-second wife, who fell in love with Valentine, his best friend.

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