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The Day of the Locust | Study Guide

Nathanael West

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The Day of the Locust | Chapter 10 | Summary



Homer Simpson's days take on a sameness that he doesn't seem to mind. Just as he used to live in a bookkeeper's rhythm of entries and addition, he now lives in a simple rhythm of opening cans and making beds. He is not bored. He sits outside on his patio, facing a small cactus garden and a pile of tin cans. His source of amusement is watching a lizard that lives in a hole at the base of one of the plants, catching flies. For whatever reason, Homer "[is] on the side of the flies" and happy when the lizard fails to capture any.


In a way Homer is no different from the lizard in the garden, regular in his simple habits. He does imagine that the lizard feels some irritation when he misses a fly but also sees that with such small defeats, the lizard retreats to his hole under the cactus, relatively unaffected.

It is hard to tell if Homer is happy, but after the turbulent memories aroused in his first warm bath in his new house, his mind is quiet. Homer seems to have no need for change that might even moderately improve his position. In fact, he sits in his old chair on the patio facing in the same direction every day. With just a little shift of position, he might have a view of the valley and the city below rather than staring each day at the property's decrepit garage, the cactus, and the pile of tin cans. But he is content to watch the lizard and the flies. Perhaps he occasionally notes the single yellow bloom on the cactus or the fine, forked tongue of the lizard.

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