Humboldt's Gift Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 78 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Humboldt's Gift.
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The Nature of Death

Charlie is middle-aged man obsessively aware of his own mortality. Perhaps forty percent of the narrative in Humboldt's Gift happens inside of Charlie's head in the form of memories and lengthy flashbacks. He clearly states his belief in the existence of the human spirit and soul after the rite of passage called death. Further, he speculates that we the living have an obligation to carry out the work of the dead and, on more than one occasion, sarcastically quips that we have a right to profit from them. As Bellow's novel winds down, the reader finds Charlie locking himself in his humble room in a boarding house in Madrid, spending hours reading to and talking with the dead. The novel ends with Charlie favoring the idea of retreating to Switzerland to spend time at a Mecca for practitioners of anthroposophy, the esoteric framework for his...

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This section contains 1,040 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Humboldt's Gift Study Guide
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