Summary and Analysis Chapter 2


In this chapter, West expands on the seaminess and grotesquerie of Los Angeles and introduces us to Tod Hackett's strong fascination with Faye Greener. Tod's encounter with the dwarf Abe Kusich suggests that grotesque figures are a familiar part of the Hollywood world — Abe is a would-be performer with a background of prostitution, horse racing, and compulsive violence. Because of Abe's aggressive "bullying," Tod leaves one sleazy apartment house and moves into another, where he meets Faye Greener, thus setting the novel's plot in motion. In a brief flash-forward, we learn that Abe will become an additional figure in a lithograph by Tod, in which Abe and others are compelled into performing a kind of grotesque and dizzying dance before an uneasy audience. This detail also continues the themes of people who stare and those people who allow themselves to be stared at, manipulated, those people found in Chapter 1. Tod himself, however, becomes both a manipulated and a staring person; he knows already what an acute observer he is of Hollywood; now we see him letting himself be badgered by Abe into moving into the San Bernardino Arms Apartments and how easily he is snared into moving there after his first sight of Faye Greener. At the chapter's conclusion, Faye stands as a contrast to the dreary filth of the apartment house, but later in the novel she will be revealed to be part of its essence.

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