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The Day of the Locust | Study Guide

Nathanael West

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The Day of the Locust | Chapter 23 | Summary



Tod Hackett returns to the house and finds Faye Greener and Miguel, their bodies glued together, dancing a tango. The others are standing close together, watching. Faye's shirt is unbuttoned, and Miguel holds her close, his arms around her inside her pajamas. Tod pours a drink and goes in search of Homer Simpson, who has locked himself in his bedroom and refuses to come out. When Tod returns to the living room, Faye and Earle Shoop are dancing, wildly stumbling about. Abe Kusich attempts to cut in, and when Earle refuses, Abe attacks, frantically trying to separate the couple. Earle kicks Abe away, and Abe returns, head butting Earle and violently hitting the cowboy between his legs. As Earle falls to the floor in extreme pain, he grabs at Faye, tearing her pajamas as he sinks. Miguel intervenes, and holding Abe by his ankles, swings him against a wall, knocking him unconscious. Tod and Claude Estee revive Abe and prepare to leave. Faye complains that her silk pajamas are ruined. She drops the torn trousers and heads to bed, her black lace panties on display. Once outside Abe declares that the evening has only just begun and urges Tod and Claude to come with him and have some fun. The men refuse, and Abe drives away alone.


Tod Hackett no longer seems to be a participant in the scene. He just watches. His attempt to comfort Homer Simpson is apparent as he calls himself "Toddie" to reassure Homer. Although male rivalry for the sex object in the room would seem to be a source of the pandemonium, the level of violence may just be male competition. The fight is, in fact, between Earle Shoop and Abe Kusich, the wooden cowboy and the "dwarf"—the man entirely without feeling versus the man of unbridled rage, one larger than life and one smaller. Miguel, as Earle's double, seems hardly to count in the rivalry. He is just an enforcer, another outsider, a man of limited sensation who gets what he wants and withdraws. Faye Greener, much like Earle and Miguel, is a person of limited affect. Her motive is self-preservation, and she has resources, it would seem, for nothing else. In this chapter this reduction of individuals to violent yet affectless responses prepares the reader for the riot at the novel's conclusion in which all available humanity has been reduced to the lowest common denominator: disappointment-fueled mob rage.

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