Summary and Analysis Chapter 6


This chapter and Chapter 7 shift the center of interest away from Tod and towards Homer Simpson, whose interest in Faye Greener resembles Tod's. The shift in focus is accomplished partly by West's showing us how both Tod and Homer exploit their interest in Harry Greener to get closer to Faye. Harry is portrayed through elaborate description, seen through Tod's eyes, and through a long quotation from a theatrical review which Tod reads. Harry's clownish imitation, using a banker's soiled hat and suit and his mock-elegant behavior parallel the clothing masquerades in earlier chapters, but with a difference, for Harry ridicules his own imitation. Harry's costume contrasts with his hopeless figure, and the miracle silver polish which he sells is a parallel, a fraud, overpriced and made from cheap ingredients. Although Harry tries to use excerpts from his reviews fraudulently, he remains a pathetically sympathetic figure, and Tod is genuinely drawn to him, even though his main interest is in Faye.

We first see Homer Simpson as he appears to Tod, who recognizes in him another one of those staring figures "who come to California to die." But Tod learns that he was mistaken about the fevered stare, and he becomes sympathetic enough to try to befriend Homer. Similarly, Tod was also mistaken about Faye when he thought she was a prostitute. However, ironically, at the novel's end, we find that these first impressions were close to the truth. Homer is beginning to serve in the novel partly as an alter ego for Tod. This brief chapter conveys an aura of poverty and loneliness, which softens its satire of the pretentiousness of theatrical people. They seem to have no alternative than to role-play, and they often need it to maintain their self-respect.

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