The Adventures of Augie March Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 94 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Adventures of Augie March a Novel.
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The Adventures of Augie March Summary & Study Guide Description

The Adventures of Augie March Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow.

The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow is the fictitious memoirs of a Chicagoan raised in poverty, rising to be the protégé of wealthy people, participating in petty crime, nearly marrying an heiress, working as a union organizer, following a woman to Mexico on a harebrained scheme, and narrowly surviving World War II in the Merchant Marine. His life passes looking for greener pastures and seeking his true self.

Born and raised in somber Chicago on relief, Augie March is an "easy touch for friendships" but not cut out for academics. His first break comes when he is hired by the crippled tycoon William Einhorn only to lose the position in the Depression. He next becomes the protégé of the controlling Mrs. Renling, through whom he meets and falls in love with beautiful Esther Fenchel, who rejects him, and becomes the object of her sister Thea's affections. When Mrs. Renling proposes to adopt him, Augie flees the easy life.

Augie's life changes when brother Simon sells the family house. Augie takes a job so disgusting that he takes up the lucrative shoplifting of textbooks. He moves into a house for transients, where he deals with a love triangle between Mimi Villars, Hooker Frazer, and Clem Tambow. As he marries into the Magnus family, Simon pushes Augie to do likewise and hires him for his company. Both situations end when Augie is caught taking Mimi to an abortionist and no one believes that he is not the father.

Augie briefly organizes workers for the CIO and is involved with Sophie Geratis, but Thea Fenchel reappears and takes him off to Mexico. Family and friends warn him against surrendering his liberty too quickly, but he is smitten. They are soon on one another's nerves as the eagle-training fails, she rejects his marriage proposal, and Augie helps Stella Chesney escape a bad situation. Augie fails to get them back together and, penniless and feeling useless, returns to Chicago where an eccentric millionaire hires him as research assistant, allowing him to read widely for pay.

Determined to align himself with "the axial lines of life," Augie plans to settle down on a farm and raise institutionalized children, but World War II intervenes. While training the Merchant Marine, Augie reunites with Stella, marries, ships out, and survives being torpedoed. After the war, Augie and Stella live in Paris, where he is an agent for a shady New York lawyer. In his spare time, Augie writes his memoirs.

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