What Makes Sammy Run By Schulberg What Makes Sammy Run, The Moral Compass, and My Life What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg is a brilliant book that shows the savagery, the insensitiveness, and cruelty caused by the drive for money, which characterized the general attitude of most people in America during the end of 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s. Sammy Glick, the main character in the book, is a poor Jewish boy who grows into an adult and spends all his life trying to get to the top of the hierarchy by knocking other people down. It is money, prestige, and power, which are most important for him. His mind is constantly occupied with thoughts of how to manipulate people and benefit from their hard work. To understand why Sammy is always hostile and always cynical towards peoples good manners, one should probably look at Sammys childhood. Brought up in poverty, running without shoes on the streets, working from early age to help his father to pay the rent, and beaten every time he goes to school, Sammy quickly understands that to escape this miserable living, he has to work hard. Soon he learns how to play tricks on people to make more money.
There is a guy on the opposite corner doin pretty good cause hes yellin U.S. may enter war. So I asks a customer if theres anything in the paper about that. So when he says no, I figure I can pull a fast one too. So I starts hollerin U.S.
enters war, and jeez shoulda seen the rush!(Schulberg 213). Sammy doesnt show any respect towards his closest relatives. It is natural for him to knock his brother down to get the messenger job. Working many hours and getting more money, Sammy was beginning to understand the secret of power(220). He is not afraid of Sheik who used to beat him up every day at school.
Close to the age of thirteen, Sammy is already devoid of human feeling even towards his parents. The only thing he thinks about is money. Sammy does not respect the Jewish tradition any more. He will not be the bar mitzvah his father wants him to be because, according to Sammys understanding, he has already become one. He does not visit the cheder because there are more important things to do in life like making money, for example.
It is difficult for Papa to understand his own son. Thats all you think about, money, money..(222) says his father. Sammy, however, already knows that Its money in the pocket thats what makes you fell like a man (222). He does not even cry when his father passes away. His only reaction Is it over (223) speaks of something not human. Sammy was thirteen, but he was a veteran; he had learned something that took the place of tears(223).
Sammy has formed a hard shell that protects him from all human feelings. His drive for money, control and annihilation of everything human is unsurpassable. Sammy has an enormous amount of confidence. There is nothing that can stop him. Even the first day, when he goes to work for Al Manheim as an office boy at The Record, he boastfully declares: Im the new office boy, but I aint going to be an office boy long(3). Al Manheim is the other major character in the book.
Compared to Sammy, he is much more considerable of other people and tries to teach Sammy of respect and compassion to others. All his words and bits of advice, however, come to a brick wall because it is difficult to change the path Sammy has chosen for himself. Later, on the day of his birthday at The Algonquin, when he makes the big strike towards publicity, it is not uncommon for him to say: Okay, I stink, but someday youll cut an arm for one little whiff(27). Sammy is not afraid to speak openly to established writers in Hollywood. He is confident and selfish, fighting for every opportunity, obsessed by the one idea of self-promotion. I was just thinking about me.
I just kept thinking nothing but me. I just kept saying Sammyglicksammyglick over and inside my head and it kept growing louder SAMMYGLICKSAMMYGLICK (33). Insincerity in human relationship, unfairness in competition, disloyalty, disregard of others, these are some of the typical characteristics of Sammy Glick and of all the other people that try to imitate Sammy Glick. Sammy is fighter for money and publicity, a ruthless careerist. His constant drive to capture every opportunity that emerges on the horizon has absorbed everything human Sammy has ever possessed.
He is unable to build a family or maintain a relationship. You are physically incapable of having friendsAll you can ever have are enemies and stooges(26). Doing favors is also not one of his best characteristics. I found out long ago that was a suckers trick. It leaves you wide open(13).
He is an individualist, relying on his own strengths and capabilities, and not letting anybody else in his realm. This is why he never allows Rosalie to come too close to him, and then, when he finally finds his love, it is hard for him understand that Laurette has her own private world and he is not to be let in it. The romantic and the sentimental cannot find a place in Sammys life. It is simply not natural for him. Sammy Glick is a frantic marathoner of life, springing out of his mothers womb, turning life into a race in which the only rules are fight for the rail, and elbow on the turn, and the only finish-line is death(xvii) And the finish line soon comes to Sammy. He destroyed by all the characteristics he possesses.
Alone, crying for friends, and people he can laugh with. My mind skipped from conquest to conquest, like the scrapbook on his exploits I had been keeping ever since that memorable birthday party at the Algonquin, writes Al Manheim remembering of Sammys life. It was a terrifying and wonderful document, the record of where Sammy ran, and if you looked behind the picture and between the lines you might even discover what made him run. And some day I would like to …