Saul Bellow writing is very poetic and beautifully scripted – it's not straightforward to read, but then again since Bellow is examining the purposes of our lives, I wouldn't expect the novel and writing style to oversimplify our predicament. Augie is a poor Jewish boy growing up in Chicago – “that somber city” – in a broken home with his dictatorial Grandmother, abandoned mother, and two diametrically opposed brothers (Simon and George.) He finds his brother Simon obsessed with material facts and riches that he cannot possess. Whereas Augie maintains a carefree life experimenting and dabbling with various encounters with different people and places in Chicago, Mexico, and Europe – never quite satisfied or convinced of the importance of each situation. Augie resists the Machiavellian pursuits of his older brother Simon, and is willing to live as a pauper, and as a result, not be controlled by money, wives, children, and especially responsibilities.
Augie's plight is like any other introspective journey. What is my purpose? Why am I here? Bellow, I believe tries to not necessarily answer this question, but rather appreciates the quandary that many of us find ourselves in.
This report prepared by David G. Phillips