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Course Hero. "Seize the Day Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 May 2018. Web. 14 Nov. 2018. <>.

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Course Hero. (2018, May 7). Seize the Day Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from

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Course Hero. "Seize the Day Study Guide." May 7, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2018.


Course Hero, "Seize the Day Study Guide," May 7, 2018, accessed November 14, 2018,

Seize the Day | Quotes


Tamkin ... tries to give me a hand, whereas Dad doesn't want to be disturbed.

Tommy Wilhelm, Chapter 1

Tommy Wilhelm desperately needs his father's help and sympathy, but his father refuses to give either. As a result, Wilhelm turns to Tamkin, who gives him encouragement and promises easy money for them both.


After much thought ... he invariably took the course he had rejected innumerable times.

Narrator, Chapter 1

Tommy Wilhelm has a habit of making bad decisions, inevitably choosing the course of action he has repeatedly considered and judged to be wrong. He did this when he decided to be an actor, against the advice of Maurice Venice and his parents, and also when he married Margaret. He does so again by investing with Tamkin, a dubious character.


Everyone was supposed to have money ... They'd be ashamed not to have it.

Narrator, Chapter 2

Tommy Wilhelm feels pressure to be financially successful, and because he is not, he resents the social expectation of wealth, even to the point of shame.


The peculiar burden of ... existence lay upon him ... That must be what a man was for.

Narrator, Chapter 2

Tommy Wilhelm considers the obligations of his roles as man, father, son, and husband. They seem to require a never-ending struggle to attain financial success and meet social expectations. The purpose of his existence seems to be to carry that burden, and it is crushing him.


What do I expect? ... I expect help!

Tommy Wilhelm, Chapter 3

Tommy Wilhelm shouts at his father, responding to his father's question about his expectations, trying to rearticulate his need for assistance and sympathy. His father will not give Wilhelm what he seeks.


The money makes the difference.

Tommy Wilhelm, Chapter 3

Speaking to his father, Tommy Wilhelm identifies money as the divisive force between himself and Dr. Adler. Wilhelm believes if he had money, his father would be proud of him, and they would have a close relationship. Because he lacks money, his father is ashamed of him and turns his back on him in his time of need, indeed because of his need.


Only the present is real—the here-and-now. Seize the day.

Dr. Tamkin, Chapter 4

Dr. Tamkin urges Tommy Wilhelm to act, to take the opportunity in front of him, seizing it decisively. By arguing for an exclusive focus on the present, Tamkin discourages Wilhelm from considering lessons he may have learned in the past or ramifications he may face in the future. This idea draws Wilhelm's attention to the present and the action Tamkin suggests: their ill-fated investment.


The waters of the earth are going to roll over me.

Narrator, Chapter 4

Tommy Wilhelm becomes more and more certain Dr. Tamkin is a conman, and he regrets having given Tamkin the last of his savings. He anticipates things will not end well for him, speaking of his ruin, using the language of drowning.


A man like you, humble for life, who wants to feel and live, has trouble.

Dr. Tamkin, Chapter 5

Although a charlatan and manipulator, Dr. Tamkin correctly analyzes Tommy Wilhelm's experience of modern urban life. Wilhelm will always have problems if his goal is not to attain social and financial success but to gain a peaceful existence, in which he is free to experience real emotion. These things are out of place in the fast paced, hardscrabble reality of Manhattan.


It was the punishment of hell itself not to understand or to be understood.

Narrator, Chapter 5

Tommy Wilhelm finds it impossible to communicate with people in the city, even his own father. It feels as if everyone speaks their own language. He can't make himself understood nor can he fathom what other people mean. He can't even tell if Tamkin is crazy or sane.


Oh, this was a day of reckoning ... on which ... he would ... look at the truth.

Narrator, Chapter 6

Tommy Wilhelm understands the significance of the day's trading. The outcome of the day will reveal the truth about Tamkin, whether he is knowledgeable about investing as he has said or a complete fraud as Wilhelm suspects.


His unshed tears rose ... and he looked like a man about to drown.

Narrator, Chapter 6

The author uses the language of water and drowning throughout the novel to described Tommy Wilhelm's experience with the overwhelming pressures of modern urban life. Faced with the realization he has lost his savings in the risky investment with Dr. Tamkin, Wilhelm feels his obligations threatening to undo him.


You ... make yourself ... my cross ... I'll see you dead ... before I let you do that to me.

Dr. Adler, Chapter 7

Dr. Adler thinks Wilhelm unfairly pushes his troubles onto him. He loses his temper when his son asks for help yet again, having ignored his advice and trusted Dr. Tamkin. Dr. Adler makes it very clear he won't accept any part of Wilhelm's problems.

This quotation is also notable for its use of the particularly Christian symbol of the cross.


You must realize you're killing me ... thou shalt not kill!

Tommy Wilhelm, Chapter 7

Tommy Wilhelm screams at his unsympathetic wife who calls to criticize him for sending a postdated check for money she feels he owes his family. She is unwilling to hear about his financial struggles, instead adding more pressure. He is at the breaking point and accuses her of seeking his life.


He ... sank deeper than sorrow ... toward the consummation of his heart's ultimate need.

Narrator, Chapter 7

Tommy Wilhelm, lost in an outpouring of grief, cries in the funeral parlor, releasing all the pain and frustration he feels. Expression and self-acceptance are what he has needed all along, breaking through the mask forced on him by modern, urban life.

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