A Confederacy of Dunces | Study Guide

John Kennedy Toole

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A Confederacy of Dunces | Chapter 13 | Summary




Ignatius J. Reilly wakes up in a hospital and worries he has fatal injuries. Mrs. Irene Reilly shows him the newspaper where events from the Night of Joy are reported. Various characters see and react to this new story. Mr. Clyde fires Ignatius from his hot dog vendor job, and Santa Battaglia again urges Mrs. Reilly to put Ignatius in a mental hospital.

Burma Jones leads Patrolman Angelo Mancuso to the stash of pornographic materials and helps him uncover the pornography ring. George is arrested. Lana Lee is held in a jail cell with three lesbians who attack her. Darlene feels grateful for the little publicity she received and is offered a job at another club. Even though Jones is out of a job, his troubles with the police lift when he reveals the stash of pornographic photos. Dr. Talc is at the center of a gossip storm when one of the insulting notes Ignatius wrote to him is spread around campus.


Mr. Levy reads about Ignatius in the paper, and Mrs. Levy insults him for ruining another life. Mrs. Levy hopes that Mr. Levy loses the lawsuit brought on by Ignatius's letter to Abelman. Mr. Levy goes to Ignatius's house to get him to admit he wrote the letter. Finding no one at home, he goes to talk to the neighbor. Ignatius and Mrs. Irene Reilly, caught up in an argument, then return home. Mrs. Reilly confirms that she is having a relationship with Claude Robichaux. She tells Ignatius that she found money in his clothes at the hospital, although he had been telling her that he had none to give her. She accuses him of being both crazy and mean.

Mr. Levy confronts Ignatius about the letter. Mrs. Reilly continues to scream and berate Ignatius, causing Mr. Levy to end up sympathizing with Ignatius, whom he starts to see as a victim. Ignatius shows Mr. Levy papers he had written about his love for the Levy Pants. Mr. Levy decides to instead blame Miss Trixie. He agrees to allow Trixie to retire if she signs a statement saying she wrote the letter. He decides to take Levy Pants in a new direction, hires Jones to work there, and sends Mrs. Levy away.


A relatively happy ending for some characters begins to emerge, with Jones and Darlene achieving a small measure of liberation from the exploitation they had been subjected to. Lana continues to get her just desserts. Mr. Levy liberates Miss Trixie from Levy Pants and liberates himself from Mrs. Levy's control and criticism. Even Dr. Talc is punished, humiliated by words Ignatius had written long ago.

But despite these generally satisfying resolutions, the novel's overall threads of cynicism do not disappear. Mrs. Reilly finally rejects Ignatius's outrageous behavior, but she never takes any responsibility for her part in his character defects. The theme of greed and the power of money remains. Mrs. Levy's concern for money is brought into sharper focus by her reaction to the libel lawsuit. The money that Mrs. Reilly finds in Ignatius's pants is the last straw. Although she has been moving toward an outright rejection of her son, it is his refusal to share his money with her that pushes her to a real decision.

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