The Day of the Locust | Study Guide

Nathanael West

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The Day of the Locust | Chapter 25 | Summary



When Tod Hackett looks into the living room, he finds Homer Simpson asleep, rolled into a tight fetal ball. Although Tod recognizes Homer's "Uterine Flight" position from a book he had read on abnormal psychology, he decides to leave Homer to rest even if there is an oddness to how he is. Tod takes a moment to speculate on Homer's escape, imagining the perfection of life in the womb, where all needs are taken care of. With that thought Tod decides to go out for dinner and return later to determine whether Homer needs a doctor. He leaves quietly, carefully shutting the door behind him.


Homer Simpson has apparently had a total collapse; unbearable reality has taken its toll. Homer has always escaped from trauma by sleeping, but the very tight coil of a fetal position suggests a psychotic retreat. Tod Hackett recognizes this but does not quite know what to do except to wait and see. Homer's state also summons Tod's recognition of the solace of the womb: "No wonder the memory of those accommodations lingered in the blood and nerves of everyone." He concludes that such a regression is not a death wish but a return to the healing comfort of before birth. As Tod recognizes the universal appeal in regression, his statement seems to imply a hope that such a state is potentially self-healing—so long as a person doesn't remain there. He concludes that if he can't awaken Homer when he returns, "he might call a doctor."

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