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Cookie-Entscheidung widerrufen [The Father-and-Son Conflict] /The Son’s World Tommy Wilhelm and the notion of money

Tommy Wilhelm is old Dr. Adler’s son. He also resides in the hotel Gloriana. While his father lives under stable circumstances, his son has to bear a very complecated phase of his life, which bases on old conflicts and serious money and family problems. In the end, Tommy Wilhelm’s situation in the hotel, which reflects this state of life, can be described in the following way:
„Hence, he finds himself in the dreadful Hotel Glorianna, admidst aging capitalist fathers of a previous era, having failed fulfill their notions of masculine achievement. It is a story about the failure of the American dream for a certain type of American male, and about the alternate values of love, feeling, compassion, and non-competition, demonstrated by Tommy, who in the dog-eat-dog world of these men is conned not only out of his remaining cash, but almost out of humanistic hope as well.“     
The author tells us about Tommy Wilhelm’s actual situation. He finds himself in a surrounding which seems to be very egoistic and which regards money as its main value. Furtheron the surrounding society, represented especially by his father, neglects common human values like love, feeling and compassion on the one hand and ignores the `American Dream´ of people like Tommy Wilhelm. For him, the `American Dream´ is a dream of self-realization which include human values like freedom. Going to California is just an example for that. In the West, he can find his own frontier, something new, a new free life. Wilhelm Adler becomes Tommy Wilhelm

While Dr. Adler’s name signifies power and God-like behaviour, Tommy decides to change his name from Wilhelm Adler into Tommy Wilhelm.
„`Are you Doctor Adler’s son?´
`Yes, but my name is Tommy Wilhelm.´ And the doctor would say, `My son and I use different monickers. I uphold tradition. He is for the new.´ The Tommy was Wilhelm’s own invention. He adopted it when he went to Hollywood, and dropped the Adler.“
While changing names is a serious decision for Tommy Wilhelm, his father cannot accept it. In the quoted situation it becomes clear that the changed name does not fit with the father’s world-view. Dr. Adler is supposed to reduce it to a ridiculous comment. He himself keeps the tradition while the son is more modern. On the one hand, using the expression different monickers, he shows that he does not take his son’s decision for serious. On the other hand, having a son who denies his own father’s name is very embarrassing in a society like Dr. Adler’s. Accepting his son’s new name would destroy the former doctor’s position among the older persons around him. 
When changing his name Tommy Wilhelm shows furtheron that he identifies himself with the American society he is living in. Dr. Adler, when keeping his old German name keeps a certain relation with European origins.
Wilson writes about Tommy Wilhelm’s new name:
„Unwilling to accept the destruction of his dreams, sick of college, and earnestly determined `to become a man´ [...], Wilhelm [...] lit out for California. [...] Recalling his changed name (Wilky Adler to Tommy Wilhelm) as the flash-point of his father’s animosity towards him, Wilhelm is psychologically astute enough to recognize that the change was not only determined by cinematic considerations.“
Tommy Wilhelm changed his name on the one hand to be more successful in the cinematic business in California, but on the other hand to flee his father’s pression. Wilky, the loser, becomes Tommy, the successful actor. Even if becoming successful does not work he frees himself from his father’s influence.
„He had cast off his father’s name, and with it his father’s opinion of him. It was, he knew it was, his bid of liberty, Adler being in his mind the title of the species, Tommy the freedom of the person.“
Having a new name, going to the unknown, wild West firstly signifies a new beginning, but secoundly it signifies a further integration into the American society. While Wilhelm (or Wilky) Adler sound German, which means absolutly foreign, Tommy Wilhelm is a typically American name. While the first name shows the persons integration into the American society, the surname still shows the person’s origins. Tommy is a short form of Thomas and this, too, shows Tommy’s idea of life – liberty is one of the most important goods for him. Short forms of names are symbols for a less complicated way of thinking.            
By transforming the `Wilhelm´ as a surname and keeping it, Tommy keeps a link to his past. This name was chosen by his parents and so it shows the relation between the older and the younger generation, but it also shows the son’s growing emancipation. The minor `Wilky´ tries to become an adult `Wilhelm´ in this way. Keeping the German sounding name as a surname, Tommy becomes a typical member of the American society. This names shows his Central-European, or even Jewish, origin, but because of having a real American first name his affinity to the New World can be seen. Tommy Wilhelm’s life-style

As we have already seen, the father’s and the son’s life-style are absolutly contrary. While the father loks for monetary success, his son does not care very much about it. A great part of Seize the Day takes place in an old hotel where Dr. Adler and his son Tommy have found  appartments. When Tommy asks his father for money, he does not receive anything.
„I can’t give you any money. There would be no end to it if I started. I want nobody on my back. Get off!“
Old Dr. Adler even insults him:                  
„`Go away from me now. It’s torture for me to look at you, you slob!´ cried Dr. Adler.
Instead of supporting his suffering son, the doctor gives him useless advice. One scene from Tommy’s childhood or youth shows the enormous difference between his parents’ and his own opinion about life-style. Tommy’s mother mentions his nephew Artie and makes him an example for her son. Tommy describes him in the following way:
„Artie [...] who was an honor student at Columbia in math and languages. That dark little gloomy Artie with his digusting narrow face, and his moles and self-sniffing ways and his unclean table manners, the boring habit he had of conjugating verbs when you went for a walk with him. `Roumanian is an easy language. You just add a tl to everything.´ He was now a professor, this same Artie with whom Wilhelm had played near the soldiers’ and sailors’ monument on Riverside Drive. Not that to be a professor was itself so great. How could anyone bear to know so many languages? And Artie also had to remain Artie, which was a bad deal.
Artie is exactly what Tommy does not want to be. Artie follows the ideals of a traditional world Tommy’s parents believe in. While the young Adler wants to flee from the small and narrow world where he is forced to do things he does not want to do, his cousin takes profit of this world. Learning Roumanian is a symbol for Artie’s willingness to be conformous to the surrounding society. Roumanian, because of being a very small language, seems to be a superficial exertion; but for Tommy’s parents a person who does such an exertion serves more as an example than their son does. Being compared with a person who has such absurd hobbies like learning Roumanian, even intensifies Tommy’s will to break out. This is exactly the contrary of what Mrs. Adler and her husband want to cause.  
An expression which obviously shows what Tommy thinks of his cousin and the way how Artie accepts the adaption to the present society is the following line from the upper quotation: And Artie also had to remain Artie, which was a bad deal. When Tommy Wilhelm compares his own situation with his cousin’s, he gives the clear statement that he prefers his own one to Artie’s. Although young Adler is without success in society, he is not as ugly as cousin and his manners are a lot better. For him there is no way that Artie could serve him as an example.
While Artie’s, Dr. Adler’s and the hotel people’s life-style could be described as rational and severe, Tommy’s life-style could be called uncoordinated and free. Maybe it could also be called a modern way of the American Dream, which does not care about monetary succes.
For this argument you can find two hints. On the one hand there is the story of trying to become a hollywood-actor, which has already been described. There, he flees from the surrounding society. The unsteady life of actors can be seen as an absolute contrast to his father’s life.
On the other hand, the way how Tommy passes his leisure time serves as an example of how and what he thinks about life. Fuchs writes about Tommy and his life-style that they are irregular, diordered, sloppy and even filthy. The following scene just confirms this impression:                
„[Tommy eats an egg] A faint grim was left by his fingers on the white of the egg after he had picked away the shell. Dr. Adler saw it with silent repugnance. What a Wilky he had given to the world! Why, he didn’t even wash his hands in the morning. He used an electric razor so that he didn’t have to touch water. The doctor couldn’t bear Wilky’s dirty habits.“
Dr. Adler cannot accept his son’s behaviour although it is not extreme. The next scene seems to be the proto-type of a father-and-son-conflict in regards of cleanness:
„Wilhelm, in pajamas and stockings had sat on his bed, drinking gin from a coffee mug and rooting for the Dodgers on television. `That’s two and two on you, Duke. Come on – hit it, now.´ He came down on the mattress – bam! The bed looked kicked to pieces. Then he drank the gin as though it were tea, and urged his team on with his fist. The smell of dirty clothes was outrageous. By the beside lay a quart bottle and foolish magazines and mystery stories for the hours of insomnia. Wilhelm lived in worse filth than a savage.
As Fuchs has already written in her statement, Tommy gives a filthy impression to his father, but also to the reader. But you can also say that Tommy’s behaviour is not absolutly extraordinary. There are many people in modern times who live the way he does. While his father still lives according to a kind of tradittional life-style, his son does not. Tommy supports his favourite team, the Dodgers, as most American males of his age do. When he cannot sleep, he reads magazines and mystery stories. Those two mentioned points are almost normal, but other points do not only seem to belong to Dr. Adler’s tight-fistedness. Drinking gin out of a coffee mug, not cleaning dirty clothes and drinking to much alcohol, lead Dr. Adler not completely unfoundedly to his conclusion: „Wilhelm lived in worse filth than a savage.“ The conclusion that his son lives like a savage, maybe seems to be too hard, but to a certain extend it shows a the father’s opinion about his son. The disappointed father only sees the negative parts of his son and and formulates what he sees in a sharp statement. The quoted expression is perhaps the line of the book to show, although widely exagerated, what he personally thinks of his offspring. Using such expressions he keeps himself away from what he does not want to support.



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