Literature Study GuidesAmerican PsychoPaul Smith Lunch With Bethany Summary

American Psycho | Study Guide

Bret Easton Ellis

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American Psycho | Paul Smith–Lunch with Bethany | Summary



Paul Smith

Patrick Bateman is at a store called Paul Smith with Nancy and Charles Hamilton and their young daughter, Glenn. He's already played squash today, watched The Patty Winters Show, and had drinks with a friend. Luis Carruthers shows up at the store and greets the Hamiltons. Bateman excuses himself to look for a tie, but Carruthers follows him. Bateman is uncomfortable, and Carruthers wants to go out for a drink and talk about "us." He tells Bateman he loves him very much. Carruthers follows Bateman outside, but Bateman pulls a knife on him. Carruthers backs off and Bateman gets into a cab.

Birthday, Brothers

Bateman is anticipating having dinner with Sean Bateman, his brother, whom he doesn't like. Sean calls and tells him to meet at Dorsia, a restaurant that Bateman has continually been shut out of. Bateman is angry and becomes angrier when the staff will not seat him until Sean arrives. He takes a Xanax and has a drink. In the bathroom, he reflects on the fact that if he disappeared, no one would notice. Back at the table, Bateman is tense. They order, and Bateman is annoyed that his brother orders the most expensive things on the menu. His annoyance continues through dinner, as the brothers one-up each other by name-dropping clubs they frequent. Bateman pays the bill with his American Express Platinum Card, making sure his brother sees it.

Lunch with Bethany

Bateman is strangely nervous about his upcoming lunch with Bethany. He's not sure if it is a fear of rejection or his new mousse that is making him nervous. At lunch he feels edgy and is shaking. She tells him to calm down and speaks comfortingly to him, asking if he is OK. He admits he is "frazzled" and tells her he wrote her a poem, which he hands to her. She reads it aloud but is confused, as it is a jumble of racial slurs and threats of violence.

Later, the conversation turns to their jobs. Bethany is surprised that he works for P & P, because his family is evidently wealthy enough he doesn't need to work at all. He says he wants to fit in. They talk a bit about their relationships. She tells him that her boyfriend, Robert Hall, is a chef and co-owner of Dorsia. Bateman feels like his insides are going to explode at this revelation. He tells her he can't believe she's dating Robert Hall, who once offered him a blow job in college. When she gets upset, he apologizes. As she continues to talk about her life, Bateman recalls a girl he killed while in college. After lunch, he invites Bethany to his place. After some persuasion, she agrees. There, he tortures her with a nail gun, mace, and a knife. The torture takes a cannibalistic turn as he chews some of her fingers off. He then rapes her repeatedly.


His interactions with both Luis Carruthers and Sean leave Bateman feeling insecure. Carruthers happens by while Bateman is in the middle of shopping and talking with some other acquaintances. His continued attention makes Bateman viscerally uncomfortable. Carruthers obviously brings out some very deep insecurities in Bateman. At dinner with his brother, Bateman again feels unsettled. He thinks that if he disappeared, people might not notice at all, and if they did, some might find it a relief. "[T]he world is better off with some people gone. Our lives are not all interconnected," he notes. These two men challenge Bateman's sense of self. Carruthers represents a sexuality Bateman may share but is unwilling to acknowledge. Sean is materialistic and wealthy like Bateman, but he accomplishes the proper image more successfully. Bateman's concern that his brother see his American Express Platinum Card shows just how competitive he is with his brother.

These insecurities may be the catalyst for the extreme violence with which he treats Bethany. He may need to prove his masculinity and power to himself by dominating her sexually and physically. If so, he is not quite able to pinpoint these insecurities in himself. He suggests that his anxiousness on the date with Bethany is caused by his fear of rejection or his new mousse. He can barely keep his composure on the date. He tries to assert control by demanding a seat in the nonsmoking section and becomes nervous and shaky when this doesn't work out as expected. He gives Bethany a bizarre poem he has written and demands "Does anyone really see anyone? ... Did you ever see me?" She asks if he is "seeing"—dating—anyone. Bethany's expectation of a happy future with the wealthy and successful Robert Hall further intensifies Bateman's feeling of insignificance. She has moved on since dating him; he is unimportant in her life. This sense of insignificance seems a large part of what fuels Bateman's extreme violence.

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