Study Guide

A Confederacy of Dunces Chapter 2

By John Kennedy Toole

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Chapter 2

  • We open with Ignatius in his room, scribbling away about how everything was better in the Middle Ages and now everything is going (more or less literally) to hell.
  • Ignatius worries about his pyloric valve, which has been snapping shut and causing him to bloat; he is concerned that he is entering a stage of bad luck.
  • His mother yells at him through the door, but he belches and then finds he's gotten an erection.
  • He masturbates thinking about his beloved—and now deceased—dog.
  • We leave Ignatius in his room, and head back over to the Night of Joy, where Burma Jones is applying for a job.
  • Jones explains to Lana Lee that he needs a job or the police will keep hounding him. Lana Lee says he can be a porter doing odd jobs, but offers to pay him almost nothing; Jones agrees because he doesn't have much choice.
  • In comes Darlene, who is late because her cockatoo was sick. Lana Lee doesn't think that's much of an excuse—but what can you do if your cockatoo is sick?
  • Lana also yells at Darlene for encouraging the Reillys the night before, when customers like that are no good for business.
  • Darlene shows Jones the broom and tells him she dreams of doing an exotic dance number.
  • And now we're back to poor Officer Mancuso, who is riding on a motorcycle wearing only a tee-shirt and Bermuda shorts along with a false beard as his costume for the day, and is on his way to visit the Reillys.
  • Mancuso explains that the man whose building they damaged is willing to let them pay him back in installments.
  • Even so, Mrs. Reilly doesn't know how she'll pay; Ignatius tells her she can't mortgage the house.
  • Mr. Mancuso encourages Mrs. Reilly to take up bowling. It won't pay for the damage, but it's something.
  • Ignatius is so unpleasant to Mancuso that he apologetically leaves.
  • Ignatius retreats into his room, but his mother ruthlessly invades, and tells him… he has to get a job.
  • The horror.
  • Ignatius bickers and insults Mancuso and his mother and the world in which they live, but he's stuck. He's going to have to get a job.
  • He worries, though, that no one will hire him because he is too good for this century.
  • Also, when he had a job at the Public Library, he was almost instantly fired.
  • He was also fired from his teaching job at the college when he threw students' papers out the window. (The students were demonstrating against him because he wouldn't grade the exams.)
  • Over to Jones again, who is on the bus feeling irritated because various white people are scared of him for no reason.
  • And we end the chapter with Ignatius at the movie theater, watching an unnamed film, which is probably the 1962 Doris Day feature Billy Rose's Jumbo.
  • Ignatius screams out loud over and over about how awful the movie is, irritating the patrons and management. Ignatius himself seems to be having a good time, though.

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