Summary and Analysis Chapter 12


This chapter's heading is similar to West's parody in "Miss Lonelyhearts on a Field Trip," and it also resumes that chapter's plot material. On "the field trip," Miss Lonelyhearts was supposedly the working journalist. Paying a visit to the Doyles, Miss Lonelyhearts plays the part of a priest calling on his parishioners, to deliver healing advice. The situation is ironic, for he has no advice that he believes in, and he is himself partly responsible for the division between the husband and wife. Also, his visit increases their dissension and leads to another sexual advance from Fay.

As the chapter opens, Miss Lonelyhearts seems to be going mad. He feels triumphant in his humility; that is, he is enjoying humiliating himself, and he continues in his delusion that he is Christ-like. When Doyle drunkenly calls on Christ to "blast" his wife and his crippled foot, he expresses a type of feeling that is foreign to Miss Lonelyhearts. Miss Lonelyhearts is almost hysterical because he joyously anticipates the approach of Christ. When they arrive at Doyle's home, Fay's surreptitious sexual advances to Miss Lonelyhearts make him want to recover the emotions he had while holding hands with Doyle, another sign that his homosexual guilt is a reaction to his attempts at expressing brotherly love.

Doyle notices his wife's interest in Miss Lonelyhearts, and after drunkenly labeling himself a pimp, Doyle acts like a dog, a newspaper in his mouth, tearing open Miss Lonelyhearts' fly and rolling over on the floor. Again, the homosexual theme can be explained as part of a pattern of self-humiliation. Doyle best relates to his wife by assuming a masochistic pose, and he can claim friendship with Miss Lonelyhearts only if he accepts sexual humiliation. Fay, who does not understand Miss Lonelyhearts' and Doyle's need for both affection and humiliation, denounces them both as fairies.

At last, Miss Lonelyhearts believes that he is ready to deliver the kind of sermon which he has long had in mind, but as he bids the couple to love each other and asks Fay to encourage Doyle sexually, he knows that his words are absurd, for he knows what Fay really wants, and he sees how thoroughly these people hate each other. Doyle's embarrassment at Miss Lonelyhearts' speech may come from shame for his sexual limitations, but it is also based on his consciousness of his and his wife's true feelings. Miss Lonelyhearts mistakenly thinks that he has failed because he hasn't tapped his religious faith, but when he tries to deliver a religious speech, he lapses into a Shrike-like satirical mode, calling Christ the "bidden fruit" (spirit) that replaces the forbidden fruit (body). Miss Lonelyhearts has only demonstrated, once again, how clumsy and inept he is, for when he attempts to substitute praise of spiritual love for praise of physical love, he manages only to satirize them both.

Obviously, Doyle does not understand the real meaning of Miss Lonelyhearts' second speech, for he declares his love to Fay out of loyalty — not because of love for her. At the end of the chapter, Fay sends her husband out of the house to get some gin, and she immediately begins making advances to Miss Lonelyhearts, who is now so revolted, embarrassed, or fearful that he is able to resist her. This resistance, his brutal violence toward her, and his flight make him a potential target for Fay's revenge.

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