285Paper - Laughter often fills an empty room, but can it...

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Laughter often fills an empty room, but can it fill the emptiness of a society based on fantasy? Nathanael West’s novel The Day of the Locust contains passages that describe 1930’s Hollywood life, its high class, and also fake images of beauty and romance. Hollywood is supposed be a town that scintillates of success and stars, but in reality Hollywood is a dull town where a majority of the people “[have] come to California to die.” West writes his novel mostly through the eyes of Tod Hackett. The novel is based on the idea that Hollywood is full of fabricated people, or according to Hackett the “Burning of Los Angeles” (184). These are the people who are pretending to be going to or coming from somewhere they’re not. Throughout the novel, laughter is symbolized as more than an expression of enjoyment, but as an ulterior motive hiding the fake lifestyles of the Hollywood masqueraders. Tod Hackett, a graduate from the Yale School of Fine Arts, recently moves to Hollywood to work for a job as a set designer for movies. Hackett is an observer, detached and analytical of the people and places around him. He classifies people into two categories; of those who are going somewhere and those who are going nowhere. He takes a look at their qualities and decides that these people who are going nowhere will be the focus of his paintings. Ultimately Hackett discovers that Hollywood is not what it has been built up to be. He finds that the people are fake, concerned merely with money and looks, and the town buildings are monstrous, made of “plaster, lath and paper” (61). Hackett was disconnected from reality in his new Hollywood life.
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285Paper - Laughter often fills an empty room, but can it...

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