Summary and Analysis Chapter 11


We know from Tod's first encounter with Homer at the Greeners' in Chapter 6 that Homer is fascinated with Faye. This chapter describes the first meeting of Homer and the Greeners, when Harry came to his door with his silver polish routine. Homer's becoming romantically enmeshed for the second significant action of his life is dramatized at length, and the portrait of Faye and Harry is sketched in more detail than before. Harry manipulates Homer cleverly, partly by making him feel cheap, but Harry ultimately becomes the victim of his own playacting when he finds that he really is ill. Unable to handle the situation except by pretending that his real illness is feigned, Harry is trapped by his role-playing into putting himself into real danger by his clown-like exertions.

Homer's response to Harry and to Faye demonstrates the combination of the puritan and the lecher in him. He is troubled by Harry's gulping the supposedly medicinal port wine, and after he is attracted to Faye, his hands stir to life, but he manages to keep them off of her. His reaction to Faye recalls his adventure with Romola Martin and foreshadows his calamity with Faye and his final impulse to kill. Seventeen, but dressed like a child of twelve, Faye manipulates both her father and Homer. She uses this protective childlike guise to treat Homer as a father while he gives her lunch, and she uses it as she acts out a vaudeville routine with her father and then pretends daughterly concern for his sickness. Both Harry and Faye have created roles which subvert any real family feeling, and they can see no difference between what they ought to feel and what they pretend. For them, the whole world has become a stage. Homer is also an actor, but his mechanical behavior, unlike theirs, is unplanned.

When Faye is forced to slap her father hard to stop his hysterical laughter, Homer can't see in this act evidence of her dangerously impersonal character. He is already a hypnotized victim and is fascinated by her pretentious claim that she is going to be a movie star. He is like a child blindly acquiescing to another child's fantasies so thoroughly that he unthinkingly shares the excitement of her dreams. The stage is set for a continuing relationship between Homer and Faye when Homer displays interest in Harry's idea that he take in boarders, and when Faye flirtatiously suggests that Homer look them up. Homer's clutching Faye's hand as she leaves (earlier, he was afraid to touch her) reveals that his feelings for her are intensifying and suggests that he will try to continue the relationship.

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