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The Day of the Locust | Study Guide

Nathanael West

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The Day of the Locust | Chapter 26 | Summary



Tod does not go directly to dinner but instead drives to Hodge's saddlery store, thinking that if he finds Earle Shoop there, he might also find Faye Greener. Instead he encounters Calvin and a Native American wearing a sandwich board advertising Tuttle's Trading Post. After a conversation in which Miguel is mentioned, Calvin and the Native American engage in racist digs directed at Mexicans. Tod leaves the unpleasantness behind, thinking of Faye and wondering if she has returned to Audrey Jenning's brothel. He arrives at a restaurant and orders a steak and a scotch, but he cannot eat, engaged as he is with thoughts of Faye. He imagines what it would be like to approach her on a dark night, knock her unconscious, and rape her. The waiter, who has brought his steak, hangs over Tod, interrupting his fantasy to make sure that the food is properly prepared. Finally, Tod finds he cannot return to his fantasy, nor is he hungry and able to eat.


It is as though one act of violence breeds another. The more trouble Faye Greener breeds, the more Tod Hackett wants her. He sees her as a survivor: "She was like a cork. No matter how rough the sea got, she would go dancing over the waves that sank iron ships." In a sense, Tod's fascination with the eternal feminine is very like Homer Simpson's. Her staying power is in her ruthless sexuality and her seductive posing, and she inspires great fear in both men. For Tod the fear is an exhilarating challenge, an invitation to test his dominance, while for Homer it is a threat. For both, she represents a compulsion. Tod cannot eat; instead, his hunger is primal—and unfulfillable. The themes of sexual violence, primal anger, aberrant desire, and devastating impotence come together in the careening impulses of the two male characters, and the reader is thrust along in a story that becomes a physical force toward the final chapter.

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