Mr. Sammler's Planet

The Isolated Planet of Artur Sammler

Saul Bellow’s Mr. Sammler’s Planet explores the world as seen through the lens of the title character, a world of isolation and disinterestedness. All of the characters in the novel have disengaged from society and humanity on some level or another, either voluntarily like Mr. Sammler himself, kicking and screaming like the black pickpocket, or gracefully like Elya Gruner as she resigns herself to the inevitable. This powerful sense of detachment from that which makes us human is the driving theme of the novel.

We see each of the characters attempt to overcome this sense of loss through the archaic eye of Artur Sammler, a relic of times past who, as Govinda Lal would say, is an example of humanity: “At best, a clumsy thing, with dawning awareness of the finesse of internal organization employed in crudities.” (186) Mr. Sammler, the most outcast of the characters, acts more as an observer of the events around him than a force on the outside world. His unique position as advisor and confidant to the other characters encountered in the novel allows us insight into both their own personal problems and the overarching pattern of societal problems that have caused Mr. Sammler to detach himself from the world.

Nearly the entire plot...

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