Saul is from Baltimore, and he's Jewish. He feels he doesn't belong in the rural Midwest and worries about real and imagined anti-Semitism, but he also relishes his sense of difference and reflects on it constantly:
The blankness of the midwestern landscape excited him. There was a sensual loneliness here that belonged to him now, that was truly his. He thought that fate had perhaps turned him into one of those characters in Russian literature abandoned to haphazard fortune and solitude on the steppes.