Summary and Analysis Chapter 26


Try as he may, Tod cannot forget about Faye. From his sneaky retreat from the emotionally crushed Homer, Tod moves to a sneaking renewal of his pursuit of Faye. He goes back to the saddlery store pretending to seek word about Earle, but actually looking for Faye. As he probes for information, he has to put with irrelevant bickering between Earle's friend Calvin and a self-degraded Hollywood Indian. Their debate about whether there are any good Mexicans is satirical in the context of their own seamy lives. Earle's claim that he fought with Miguel over stolen money and that he is finished with Faye, parallel Tod's duplicity in pretending interest in Earle and his being chummy with the Indian and Calvin to get information. The scene at the saddlery store lends its disgusting aura to the previously disgusting party.

Tod remembers the hunger that gave him an excuse to leave Homer, but he spends most of his time in the restaurant indulging in a vivid fantasy of raping Faye. His thoughts of how he might assault her are presented with brutal objectivity, and he incongruously imagines the accompaniment of beautiful birdsong. This key passage has several thematic implications. The California birdsong contrasts beauty and ugliness and shows us how California puts a glossy exterior on everything — even an act as ugly as rape. Tod's fantasy expresses his rage against Faye's ability to be completely amoral and still continue to survive. Probably he envies this in her and is also resentful that he lacks the nerve to be violent. Tod is not much more moral — if at all — than the dream-driven people whom he has viewed so critically. He, too, feels the allure of passion and violence, and he, too, needs a terrible outburst to relieve his frustrations.

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