The Day of the Locust | Study Guide

Nathanael West

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Course Hero. "The Day of the Locust Study Guide." Course Hero. 16 Mar. 2018. Web. 15 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Day-of-the-Locust/>.

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Course Hero. (2018, March 16). The Day of the Locust Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 15, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Day-of-the-Locust/

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Course Hero. "The Day of the Locust Study Guide." March 16, 2018. Accessed July 15, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Day-of-the-Locust/.

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Course Hero, "The Day of the Locust Study Guide," March 16, 2018, accessed July 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Day-of-the-Locust/.

The Day of the Locust | Chapter 16 | Summary

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Summary

The next afternoon Tod Hackett returns to the Greeners rooms to find that Harry Greener has died. Faye Greener is hysterical and loudly blaming herself. Mary Dove arrives and attempts to comfort Faye. Tod advises Mary to stop since Faye needs to act out her sorrow. Mrs. Johnson, the janitor, arrives and finally quiets Faye with advice about Harry's funeral, which she offers to arrange. Faye doesn't have the money and rejects a pauper's funeral paid for by the city. Faye also rejects Mary's and Tod's help. She begins to repair her makeup and asks Mary Dove to call Mrs. Jenning. Tod listens as Mary and Faye engage in some vulgar conversation about Faye's cheap "punkola"—her cowboy lover, Earle Shoop. Tod tries once more to offer help, and Faye rudely shrugs him off. She knows exactly how to earn the money herself.

Analysis

In her sadness and her perfunctory expressions of guilt and responsibility for her father's death, Faye Greener, as a character, achieves a kind of brute reality. She acknowledges watching herself in the mirror as she has a last conversation with her father. Half teasing him and half encouraging him, she realizes as she examines every pore of her face that Harry is not answering; he is dead. Her choice to prostitute herself rather than take money from friends to bury her father demonstrates a level of independence, painful as it is, that represents her code of values. While the reader perhaps cannot love her choices, this novel, written during the Great Depression, presents an opportunity to think about the nature of value for individuals pressed by hard times. This novel, comic in tone, and farcical in its exaggerated presentation of character and narrative, becomes a human comedy, wrenching and revealing of particularly pressing ironies governing the lives of ordinary individuals, even in Hollywood.

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