Herzog

by: Saul Bellow

Section 8

Summary Section 8

Earlier in the novel Moses had said that if "existence is nausea then faith is an uncertain relief." Perhaps Moses has found a kind of faith. He writes to God, saying that God is the "King of Death and Life." Moses further proves his ability to accept ambiguities and ironies by accepting the fact that God rules those two opposite domains, death and life.

Perhaps Moses learns to accept ambiguity because his car accident forces him to face death in a visceral way that is very different from facing death by thinking about it. Death pervades this chapter, and not only when Moses must face the prospect of it. The chapter constantly refers to Moses' father's funeral. Moses has a vivid memory of chickens being slaughtered. He also remembers that he was raped, a memory that has not come up before in the novel. By facing all of these manifestations of death and violence, Moses comes to terms with them. When Moses says that there are too many dead, he is referencing T.S. Eliot's poems The Waste Land and Hollow Men, poems of disillusioned modernity in which Eliot speaks of undone masses.

Moses' house in Ludeyville becomes the place where Moses will go as a new man. The house is simultaneously burdensome, a place where Moses can be miserable, and a place where he can find happiness. The house, like Moses' life, has an ambiguous purpose.