The ending of Saul Bellow’s novella “Seize the Day” is somewhat ambiguous, and it is open to interpretation whether Tommy Wilhelm finds consolation and salvation at the end. While there are elements of hope and redemption in the final scenes of the novella, there are also hints that Wilhelm’s struggles are far from over.
The novella’s climactic scene takes place in the elevator of the Hotel Gloriana, where Wilhelm is trapped with a group of strangers during a power outage. As they wait for the power to come back on, Wilhelm begins to panic, feeling trapped and helpless. However, as he begins to share his fears and anxieties with the other passengers, he starts to feel a sense of connection with them. In this moment of shared vulnerability, Wilhelm experiences a brief moment of spiritual transcendence and connection with his fellow humans.
This scene can be seen as a moment of salvation for Wilhelm, as he is able to connect with others and overcome his sense of isolation and alienation. However, it is important to note that this moment is short-lived, and Wilhelm’s struggles are far from over. After the power comes back on, Wilhelm leaves the elevator and walks out into the rain, feeling disoriented and unsure of what to do next.
It is also worth noting that the novella’s final scene takes place in a cemetery, where Wilhelm visits the grave of his father. This scene is tinged with a sense of sadness and regret, as Wilhelm reflects on the failures and disappointments of his life. He is unable to find any real solace or comfort in the cemetery, and the scene serves as a reminder of the fragility and transience of human life.
Taken together, these final scenes of the novella suggest that while Wilhelm experiences moments of hope and redemption, his struggles are far from over. He remains a flawed and troubled character who is struggling to find his place in the world. However, the novella does offer some glimmers of hope and possibility for Wilhelm, as he is able to connect with others and experience moments of spiritual transcendence.
It is also worth considering the symbolism of the title, “Seize the Day,” and how it relates to Wilhelm’s character arc. The title suggests a sense of urgency and the need to make the most of one’s life, and this is something that Wilhelm struggles with throughout the novella. In the final scenes of the novella, Wilhelm seems to have a renewed sense of purpose and determination, as he walks out into the rain with a newfound sense of direction.
In conclusion, the ending of “Seize the Day” is open to interpretation, and it is up to the reader to decide whether or not Tommy Wilhelm finds consolation and salvation at the end. While the novella does offer moments of hope and redemption, it also suggests that Wilhelm’s struggles are far from over, and that he remains a flawed and troubled character. However, the novella’s title and its themes of individualism and personal fulfillment suggest that there is always the possibility of redemption and renewal, even in the face of life’s challenges and setbacks.