Dangling Man is about a man named Joseph who is waiting to be drafted into the military during WWII. During this time, his anticipation manifests into anger and dissatisfaction, and he takes it upon himself and others around him. His relationship with his wife, family, and friends is poor, and Joseph doesn't really appear to truly care about rectifying them. He is intensely resentful and acts on the spur of the moment without thinking of consequences.
Joseph was not a likable character. Although there are multiple times in the book where it is said that Joseph's behaviors and attitudes were out of character for him, there doesn't seem to be any references to times when he was a better person nor is there enough support for the reader to believe he was different, but that the waiting, or dangling, had changed him.
He is so bitter that it is hard to empathize with him. It seems like he is destroying his life, piece by piece, but as a reader, we don't get to know any of the outcomes. I was surprised by how everything was unresolved at the end, though Joseph did get what he wanted. I don't think that after the war anything would return to normal for him. I think he fundamentally changed. He became cynical and lost in his philosophical thoughts for meaning in life that his actual life around him was meaningless. Bellow touched upon some heavy questions, but didn't delve beyond the surface. The ending left the book weaker. There were some sections with beautiful prose, especially the scenes with Joseph walking around the city.