The Day of the Locust | Study Guide

Nathanael West

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The Day of the Locust | Chapter 12 | Summary



After Harry Greener and Faye Greener leave, Homer Simpson spends the rest of the day in his deck chair, his hands moving restlessly as he watches the lizard. Days pass, and he can't erase Faye from his mind. This frightens him. Wary of what had almost occurred with Romola Martin, Homer knows that chastity is his safety. He rushes into the house and goes to bed, believing that people do not think when they are sleeping. Sleeping intermittently, he wakes to calm himself by singing the only song he knows: "The Star-spangled Banner."

When that doesn't work, Homer thinks about travel brochures he has seen, knowing full well he will not take a trip. The thought makes him cry very hard, and finally, still crying, he falls asleep. Feeling no better in the morning, he thinks about Faye and walks as far as the San Bernardino Arms apartments. He checks the Greener mailbox in the lobby and goes home. The next night he returns, carrying flowers and wine for father and daughter.


Homer Simpson is burdened by sexual impulses. In fact, he fears them, believing he would be consumed by the flames of his passion. He seems to believe this literally and recalls how safe he felt when he had a steady job that exhausted him. Troubled by his thoughts, he observes that without a job, he has nothing. He attempts to escape his anxiety by sleeping.

Homer, it would seem, is nothing but his anguish and his repressed sexuality. He seems to be a 40-year-old man who is either a cipher for adolescent sexuality, which entirely clouds his existence, or a case of arrested development. At night his fears are dissolved in tears and fitful sleep. In the morning he puts his anguish aside and decides to try again. Given that the "Star Spangled Banner" is the only song he knows, it is hard to imagine that Homer has any romance in his soul. His prospects for pleasure seem to be hidden under his fears, his emotions managed by his sense of how others might act in similar circumstances. The more the reader learns about these characters, the more they seem to be caricatures of American types rather than fully realized three-dimensional personalities. As a result, the novel develops into a farce and parody of human behavior in which the slip ups and jokes are often based in sexual confusion and mistakes between the partners.

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