Seize the Day
In the market Rye is ahead and Lard is at a fair enough level. Tamkin and Tommy go out to lunch. Tommy does not want to waste time at lunch and so he orders very little. He tells Tamkin that he does not want to waste time and wants to get back to the market as soon as possible. Tommy is worried about his money. Tamkin, however, takes his time all through lunch and continues to provide unsolicited advice. Tamkin tells Tommy that he worries too much about what his father thinks of him. He tells him also that he should not "marry suffering."
Throughout, Tamkin tells Tommy stories and Tommy thinks to himself that Tamkin is constantly lying. Tommy thinks of Olive and about how he could not marry her because of Margaret. Tamkin tells Tommy that his wife is dead, and that she died of drowning, a suicide, which Tommy does not believe.
Finally, Tommy gets tired of waiting and feigning patience and finally exclaims that they must end their lunch and return to the stock market. Upon their return Mr. Rappaport, the blind man from the previous chapter, asks Tommy to accompany him to the cigar shop. Tamkin orders him to do so. Tommy complains and has bitter thoughts about the blind, old man. Mr. Rappaport takes him from one store to the other and tells him a war story about Teddy Roosevelt. In his story T.R. yelled at him and for this reason, because of this one time, Mr. Rappaport loves Teddy Roosevelt. After all of his bitter remarks and all of his cynicism throughout this chapter, Tommy smiles at the thought of how much and for what reason Mr. Rappaport loves Roosevelt. "Ah, what people are!" he exclaims.
When Tommy returns to the market he sees that the numbers on the commodities he invested in are unrecognizable and they have dropped inordinately. At the thought of this, Tommy ignores and becomes bitter again with Mr. Rappaport and discovers, too, that Tamkin is missing. Tommy is told that Tamkin said he would take a vacation to Maine during the summer. This angers Tommy, given that he told Tommy he had all of his money tied up in an invention. At the end of the chapter, Tamkin has disappeared, has left apparently, and is nowhere to be found.
If the previous chapter was inching toward some kind of redemption, this chapter is a seeming movement backward in Tommy's progress. It seems regressive in the sense that Tommy seemed to lose his trust in Tamkin. He seems consumed with the preoccupation of his investment and of his money. Tamkin tries to pull him away repeatedly but Tommy fails to come to an understanding. However, the road to "victory," as the reader has learned is a road of flux. Therefore, a backward step could, in the end, become a forward one. The reason why, in the end, this seemingly backward movement on behalf of Tommy is actually a positive one is because, in the end, Tamkin is lost and Tommy will have to learn to get on without him. He will have to come to some kind of understanding about what he has learned on his own.
There are several symbolic instances throughout the chapter. For example, it is important that Tamkin says his wife died a death of drowning. Tommy does not believe him, however. If it is true then it makes sense that Tamkin would want to help a "drowning" man, he will want to save Tommy from the fate of his wife. If it is not true, then it is meant as a parable that Tommy does not yet understand. In short, it does not matter if Tamkin is lying because Tommy should recognize himself in the woman of the story: the truth in fiction, and the truth in the "larger body," or the "big picture." This is not the only parable that Tommy fails to grasp in this chapter however.
Another mirror is presented to Tommy in the guise of the old and blind Mr. Rappaport. Tommy does not realize that by not recognizing his own "blindness," such as failing to see the important things in life, he is, ironically, blind. Tommy claims that the old, blind man is obsessed with money but so has Tommy been throughout the chapter.
Toward the end of the chapter, Tommy's mask, the concealing mask he began with seems to be put on at full force. He tries to seem "cool" when his commodities drop so much so that he has lost all of his money, however, he is internally upset. The reader is reminded of Tommy's pills and the cigarette butts that live in his pockets. In short, he will have to take a step backward in order to go forward.
Tommy feels very angry with Tamkin at the end of this chapter. He both feels cheated and betrayed. He feels cheated because it seems as though Tamkin had lied about being not having money, given that he had apparently told someone about a future trip to Maine. He feels betrayed because he thought they had gone into the deal as "equal partners." The question arises as to whether Tamkin's cure does not include this loss at the stock market. The reader must ask him/herself whether or not Tamkin is truly a fraud and whether that will really matter in the end, given what Tommy has received or not received from him.
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