The Day of the Locust By Nathanael West Summary and Analysis Chapter 22

This chapter is composed of two interludes, both of which prepare us for future violence. In the first scene, Faye struts like a peacock in her green silk lounging pajamas before her admirers; in the second scene, Homer and Tod try to suppress their sexual despair over Faye, for Faye's partly unbuttoned pajamas are especially designed for sexual provocation. She struts affectedly before all the men, but she pulls out the stops as she rants to her latest admirer, Claude Estee, about her Hollywood ambitions. Claude is an actual Hollywood success, so Faye sees in him someone who might help her career. Her pretentious talk about her devotion to acting echoes her earlier comments to Homer, but she now piles on allurement and sexual teasing. Fascinated by her physical appeal, the men all accept her playacting as natural. Her gesture of running her tongue over her lips as a promise of intimacies which she won't grant shows her insincerity, and her buttocks, shaped like a heart turned upside down, symbolize what love has become in her world. The men's uncritical stares suggest their total acceptance of the "Hollywood dream" fantasy.

Both Tod and Homer are sickened by Faye's behavior. Tod goes outside, and Homer follows him, reversing the scene in Chapter 6 where Tod followed Homer out of the Greeners' apartment in an attempt to befriend him. Now, Tod is angry at Homer and unable to feel sorry for him. He cannot help him, he senses his own predicament as a parallel to Homer's, and he resents Homer's continuing devotion to Faye. As Homer and Tod sit outside, Homer's hands begin a familiar routine, struggling between sexual expression and repression. Homer's friendly gestures and clasping hands with Tod hint that his sexual energy is groping towards male friendship. Homer's and Tod's mixed, but contrasting, feelings for Faye surface as they hear her singing a song about how smoking a reefer makes her become a "viper." Homer's fidelity does not waver — he finds her voice pretty. Doubtless Tod realizes that Faye is always a viper. Homer thinks of protecting her from herself by getting rid of Earle and Miguel, but when Tod agrees to help get rid of them, Homer knows this will also drive Faye away. Tod is acting with a subtle vindictiveness that becomes explicit when he tells Homer that Faye is a whore. Earlier in the scene, all the men stared at Faye like predators; now, still unsuccessful in his own selfish purpose, Tod longs to destroy her. His sexual and aggressive feelings toward her merge and continue to mount.

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