Summary and Analysis Chapter 24


In Chapters 21 through 23, West has been shifting the point of view away from Tod towards a combination of objectivity and analysis of the feelings of the participants. This technique conveys the somewhat hysterical state of all the men. With Chapter 24, the point of view again narrows down mainly to Tod's, for the other characters are dispersing, and West wants to concentrate on Tod's reaction to the novel's final events.

Chapter 24 briefly goes back to describe the preceding evening's party from Homer's point of view, and it also portrays Homer's near-madness that resulted from the party's aftermath. Returning to Homer's house the next day, Tod finds Homer in a trance and learns that Faye and her friends have vanished. Homer's plan to return to Iowa suggests that the plot of the novel is winding down, although West has fresh violence in store. When Tod gets Homer to communicate what has happened and how he feels, he sees that Homer's emotions are more tangled than ever. Homer's hands are playing their usual agitated tricks, and now that Homer must face the truth about Faye, the restiveness of his hands implies a potential for destruction as much as a struggle with his repressed sexuality.

Homer's semi-coherent story to Tod picks up last night's events. Homer is still angry that Tod called Faye a whore, although he soon reveals his own observation of her lustful acts. As Homer describes his return to the party, we learn that he had enjoyed watching Faye, and that this had infuriated her. Apparently she enjoys teasing most men but she senses that it is sick for repressed people like Homer to spy on her. Homer had seen Faye dancing with Earle and then dancing with Miguel, after which he went to bed. This is the moment at which Tod had returned to the party and had seen Faye and Miguel dancing. Homer now narrates what happened after Tod had left the party.

The moment of truth was arriving for Homer as he went to Faye's room in response to moans which he took for signs of illness. Faye, in bed with Miguel, had left the door unlocked; perhaps she was enjoying the recklessness of her behavior. But when she is discovered in bed with Miguel she hides under the sheets and when, moments later, Earle comes in and fights with Miguel, she still hides under the sheets, showing her combined exhibitionism and squeamishness. Perhaps she has wanted Homer and Earle to intrude, so she can be rid of Homer and provoke a fight between her two young gamecock lovers. Her lovemaking with Miguel reveals her mindless lasciviousness, perhaps stimulated by her brief service at Mrs. Jenning's. Homer is so innocent that he scarcely recognizes the meaning of Faye's sexual moans, but he knows that he has been betrayed, and now he realizes what Faye is really like. Tod shows compassion for Homer, perhaps because he can see his own situation reflected in Homer's, but he can do almost nothing for Homer. He can only offer him coffee, listen to his ravings, and suggest that Homer is now better off.

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