The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Saul Green Character Analysis

Saul Green is a blacklisted American communist writer who moves into Anna’s flat and eventually starts an intense relationship with her. At first, he is brutish and inconsiderate; however, when he also proves an “extraordinarily acute” observer of her personality and experience, Anna begins falling in love with him. He is incapable of sexual or emotional commitment until the very end of their relationship. Anna finds Saul’s lengthy rants about “I, I, I, I” and perpetual infidelity agonizing, in part because it leads her to question whether he truly cares about her. He also quite literally lacks a sense of time and writes sparsely and unemotionally about women, including Anna, in his own notebook. Anna feels her body tense up whenever Saul approaches but cherishes chatting and listening to jazz with the best version of him—she realizes that there are numerous versions of Saul, and she never knows which one she will face at any given time. Eventually, they begin to meld psychically and emotionally, losing their senses of self: Saul begins feeling controlled by Anna and too guilty to sleep with other women; in her dreams, Anna sees Saul play her memories back as films. She guides their relationship to a mutual understanding by mothering him; eventually, he encourages her to write, but insists on taking the golden notebook from her in exchange for the first line of what becomes Free Women. He leaves her, and Anna dramatizes their entire romance in the closing pages of Free Women, replacing him with a similar character named Milt who also saves her from madness. However, Anna and Milt are only together for five days before Milt realizes he must leave because he is incapable of mixing sex and emotional attachment.

Saul Green Quotes in The Golden Notebook

The The Golden Notebook quotes below are all either spoken by Saul Green or refer to Saul Green. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of The Golden Notebook published in 1962.
The Notebooks: 4 Quotes

Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Saul Green
Page Number: 541
Explanation and Analysis:

Then I remembered that when I read my notebooks I didn’t recognize myself. Something strange happens when one writes about oneself. That is, one’s self direct, not one’s self projected. The result is cold, pitiless, judging. […] If Saul said, about his diaries, or, summing his younger self up from his later self: I was a swine, the way I treated women. Or: I’m right to treat women the way I do. Or: I’m simply writing a record of what happened, I’m not making moral judgements about myself — well, whatever he said, it would be irrelevant. Because what is left out of his diaries is vitality, life, charm. “Willi allowed his spectacles to glitter across the room and said …” “Saul, standing foursquare and solid, grinning slightly — grinning derisively at his own seducer’s pose, drawled: Come’n baby, let’s fuck, I like your style.” I went on reading entries, first appalled by the cold ruthlessness of them; then translating them, from knowing Saul, into life. So I found myself continually shifting mood, from anger, a woman’s anger, into the delight one feels at whatever is alive, the delight of recognition.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Willi Rodde , Saul Green
Related Symbols: Anna’s Notebooks
Page Number: 545-6
Explanation and Analysis:

“What's wrong with you?” he said. He came over, knelt beside me, turned my face to his, and said: “For Christ sake's, you must understand sex isn't important to me, it just isn't important.”

I said: “You mean sex is important but who you have it with isn't.”

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Saul Green (speaker)
Page Number: 554
Explanation and Analysis:
The Golden Notebook Quotes

Whoever he be who looks in this
He shall be cursed.
That is my wish.
Saul Green, his book. (!!!)

Related Characters: Saul Green (speaker), Anna Wulf
Related Symbols: Anna’s Notebooks
Page Number: 583
Explanation and Analysis:

Still asleep, I read the words off a page I had written: That was about courage, but not the sort of courage I have ever understood. It's a small painful sort of courage which is at the root of every life, because injustice and cruelty is at the root of life. And the reason why I have only given my attention to the heroic or the beautiful or the intelligent is because I won't accept that injustice and the cruelty and so won't accept the small endurance that is bigger than anything.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Mrs Marks / Mother Sugar, Saul Green
Related Symbols: Anna’s Dreams
Page Number: 606
Explanation and Analysis:

“Write down: The two women were alone in the London flat.” […] “On a dry hillside in Algeria, the soldier watched the moonlight glinting on his rifle.”

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Saul Green (speaker), Molly Jacobs
Page Number: 610
Explanation and Analysis:
Free Women: 5 Quotes

“No, but let's preserve the forms, the forms at least of . . .” He was gone, with a wave of his hand.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Milt (speaker), Saul Green
Related Symbols: Anna’s Notebooks
Page Number: 633
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Golden Notebook LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Golden Notebook PDF

Saul Green Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Saul Green appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Notebooks: 4
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Saul Green, the American, delays his arrival because he is in the countryside—Molly calls to tell... (full context)
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Saul Green comes to visit, finds the apartment “fine, fine,” and moves in. Anna mentions his... (full context)
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Anna begins including numbered asterisks in her account. (*1) She asks Saul about herself, and he lectures her frankly and understandingly about her lifestyle, “naming” her “on... (full context)
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Saul grows offended and defensive when Anna sends him out for this meeting, but he later... (full context)
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...a job. Molly calls to tell Anna “that Jane Bond has ‘taken a fall over’ Mr Green ,” a mistake (and a warning) (*3). (full context)
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Jane Bond calls in the early morning for Saul Green today, but he does not come to his door when Anna knocks—he is fast... (full context)
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Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...fails to play “the game” and realizes she is “going to fall in love with Saul Green.” She has dinner with Molly and talks about Saul but feels increasingly possessive over... (full context)
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Whenever Anna makes coffee or tea, Saul walks about with a sense of “loneliness, isolation, […] like a coldness around him,” which... (full context)
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Later, when Saul brings the “friend” back up, Anna asks about why he always talks of “getting laid,”... (full context)
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...sense of time in her love, which finally consummated itself a few days before when Saul sullenly suggested they “be good to each other” (*5). She has forgotten everything about being... (full context)
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...happy.” She feels “a calm and delightful ecstasy,” one with the universe’s “confident energy” (*7). Saul, too, is relaxed and inapprehensive (*8). (full context)
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Anna “read the last paragraph as if it were written about someone else,” for Saul did not come to her that night. She felt snubbed, and he looked tense at... (full context)
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Some length of time later, Anna describes the previous night: Saul offers a long story about needing to go somewhere, but Anna “didn’t want to know... (full context)
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In the morning, Anna can smell fear on Saul’s neck—she falls back asleep and dreams that she is the malicious man. Saul is still... (full context)
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Saul avoids Anna for a week, and she feels an unfamiliar “terrible, spiteful jealousy.” They have... (full context)
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Anna and Saul talk about politics, the cruelty of America and McCarthyism (*9), how Saul was forced to... (full context)
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Saul comes downstairs and they comfort each other. He rambles on about his parents, goes upstairs... (full context)
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...“this isn’t my anxiety state” to no avail (*11), she fails “the game” and hears Saul traipse around the house. She calls Molly, who mentions that Jane Bond is still in... (full context)
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When Saul returns from his “walk,” he goes to the bathroom (*12) and Anna finally manages to... (full context)
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Jane Bond calls early in the morning, and Anna hides in the bathroom while Saul talks with her. He goes to visit Jane after breakfast, and Anna looks through his... (full context)
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Then, one of Saul’s diary entries frightens Anna because it corroborates what she has already written in the yellow... (full context)
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Infuriated, Anna jumps to Saul’s writings about her. He writes that he has decided not to stay with another girl... (full context)
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Anna looks again at Saul’s diary and realizes that he wrote the entry about not enjoying sex with her during... (full context)
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Anna recounts the day before. She asks Saul whether he is sick, and he wonders how she can tell; he is trying not... (full context)
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Today Saul criticizes Anna in bed and they debate whether there are different, perhaps national, styles of... (full context)
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Today, Saul returns and Anna knows he has just been with a woman; he tells her that,... (full context)
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Anna goes to visit Janet—she knows Saul is with Dorothy at the same moment. Janet seems happy, and Anna just as soon... (full context)
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Anna says that she and Saul should separate for the night; he is shocked, quickly grows defensive, and then makes a... (full context)
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Anna goes downstairs to make coffee; Saul goes out, waiting for Anna to say something on his way down. She listens to... (full context)
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Back inside, Anna explains what Saul is doing in terms of his “mother-trouble”—he has to outwit her, but is frightened at... (full context)
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Anna and Saul have sex, coldly, and she feels “he’s making love to someone else.” Saul starts talking... (full context)
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(*17) For a week, Anna and Saul are happy. They are alone, and Anna feels no need to write anything, until now—when... (full context)
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Saul decides not to go out and heads upstairs to work, then comes down and waits... (full context)
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Saul orders Anna to bed, then begins touching her over her objections. When she starts crying,... (full context)
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...is the most shocking part of her relationship, yet “nothing, compared to the rest.” Toward Saul, she feels jealous, then frightened, then worried, jealous again, and hateful. She goes to his... (full context)
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Anna realizes (*18) she is becoming part of Saul and looking for the same mother figure he lacks. She is frightened to feel one... (full context)
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...Janet, falls “limp with exhaustion” and gets into bed, feeling momentarily sane and imagining how Saul must occasionally feel the same. Anna hears him outside and notices “a surge of fear... (full context)
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This morning, Anna reads the newspapers, unsure which version of Saul would come downstairs. In the last three days, she has been “inside madness” and Saul... (full context)
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...and Charlie Themba, and herself again. After a time, she returns to herself and finds Saul in bed. She holds him, wakes him up and lets him fall back asleep, holding... (full context)
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Saul wakes up abruptly and yells Anna’s name; they have sex and he goes out, while... (full context)
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In the morning, Saul chastises Anna for letting him sleep in and insists he missed his business lunch, which... (full context)
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...of being different people.” She becomes herself “with a weary sense of duty” and hears Saul upstairs. He comes downstairs and holds her hand; she realizes “he was comparing it with... (full context)
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...is sick in the bathroom and goes to sleep, then dreams of “playing roles” against Saul, as in variations of the same play. In the morning, she writes until he wakes—he... (full context)
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...and never retrieved. She buys it, but is not sure what to use it for. Saul thinks it is beautiful and wants it for himself, and so repeats, “gimme, gimme, gimme,... (full context)
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Anna spends today inside, looking at the golden notebook and finding that Saul had scribbled a “schoolboy’s curse” inside: “Whoever he be who looks in this / He... (full context)
The Golden Notebook
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After Saul’s “schoolboy’s curse,” the golden notebook starts with Anna turning on lights on a dreary day,... (full context)
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Saul goes out, and suddenly everything is pleasant again, but only momentarily, and then Anna begins... (full context)
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...afraid, it cuts her arm and jumps down among the houses. Crying, Anna realizes that Saul is the tiger, nearly wakes up, and thinks that she should write a play about... (full context)
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Anna wakes up, “exhausted by the dreaming,” but actually, she soon realizes, exhausted because Saul has returned. She can feel that he has been just past the door, on the... (full context)
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Saul looks at Anna with “anger, dislike, suspicion”; he wants to fight her now, but his... (full context)
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Anna watches Saul fight “to refuse entrance to alien personalities,” like she did during the dream. They put... (full context)
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Anna calls Molly, but recites their coming conversation to Saul while she waits for Molly to pick up: Anna will reveal the affair and explain... (full context)
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...a boulder up the “great black mountain” toward the “few great men” at the top. Saul is a boulder-pusher too, she insists, and not one of the “few great men.” He... (full context)
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...cries “weak, sodden whisky-diluted tears on behalf of womankind” and watches them both get aroused. Saul drags her to bed and kisses her asleep; she laughs herself to sleep and awakens,... (full context)
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They have coffee in silence, and Saul says he will go to work; they go to bed and he says he has... (full context)
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Anna thinks about reading Saul’s diary but knows she will never look again. Feeling ill, she pours some scotch and... (full context)
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Anna wakes up, needing Saul. “A short story: or a short novel: comic and ironic:” a woman begins alternating between... (full context)
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...take to fit Ella into this story; Ella would be more defensive now, and with Saul, she would be more intelligent and cool than Anna. Anna realizes she is “creating ‘the... (full context)
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Saul comes upstairs, tired and not combative, and announces that it is curious Anna is laughing,... (full context)
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Saul says that Anna needs to start writing again—she will “really crack up” unless she comes... (full context)
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In the morning, Saul looks too ill to go out; Anna wants to tell him this, to insist that... (full context)
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Saul tells Anna to write the first sentence down. He says they are part of the... (full context)
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...in Algeria, the soldier watched the moonlight glinting on his rifle”—the golden notebook continues in Saul Green’s writing. It is a short novel about the Algerian soldier, a farmer who joins... (full context)