The Adventures of Augie March

The Adventures of Augie March Essay Questions

  1. 1

    When Augie March begins the story of his life by declaring that "a man's character his fate," what does he mean? By the end of the novel, what have you concluded about Augie's character and his fate?

  2. 2

    Grandma Lausch advises Augie and Simon that respect is better than love. How do Augie and Simon respond to this philosophy? Do they reinforce it, or do they reject it?

  3. 3

    How does the attempt to train the eagle Caligula to hunt lizards echo Thea's hopes for her relationship with Augie? How does Bellow utilize the image of the bald eagle?

  4. 4

    Kayo Obermark tells Augie that there is always bitterness in one's "chosen thing". How does Augie view this statement at the end of the novel?

  5. 5

    How is Augie's decision not to throw Basteshaw overboard significant? What does this say about Augie's character?

  6. 6

    When Einhorn tells Augie that he has "opposition" in him, Augie recognizes this statement as true. How is this "opposition" expressed in the novel? Pay particular attention to Augie's relationship with Thea.

  7. 7

    Why does the novel end on the note of Augie's laughter?

  8. 8

    In his famous "axial lines" speech, Augie confides in his friend Clem Tambow his vision of starting a school and living with his blind mother and his brother Georgie, along with a wife and a family of his own. Though Augie never makes this vision a reality, has he still committed to what lies at its heart? How or how not?

  9. 9

    Bellow employs the technique of overlaying multiple allusions to myth and grand events and figures of history throughout the novel, particularly in his descriptions of characters. What does this technique say about the "ordinariness" of human life and its potential for greatness?

  10. 10

    How does Augie contrast with Einhorn's son Arthur? What does Arthur suggest about the state of "poetry" in America?

  11. 11

    Is Augie an honest narrator?

  12. 12

    How does Augie relate to knowledge and books? Why, given his interest, does he never become a fully registered student who finishes college? In other words, what does Bellow seem to be suggesting about the education provided by institutions, versus the education provided by life?

  13. 13

    Why is Augie unable to settle on any one profession?

  14. 14

    Why does Bellow fail to tell the reader what subjects Augie is teaching at the school, or what he envisions teaching at his foster-academy? What does this imply about what Augie has learned over the course of his life?