Study Guide

A Confederacy of Dunces Chapter 4

By John Kennedy Toole

Chapter 4

  • Ignatius is working hard making important looking cardboard signs at Levy pants so that everyone will know that his workspace is important. He's not doing much in the way of filing, though.
  • He says he can't reach the lower drawers; Gonzalez brings him a tiny stool. Ignatius tries it, there is much kerfuffle, and everybody (Ignatius, Gonzalez, Miss Trixie) ends up in a heap on the floor.
  • Mr. Levy comes in and wonders, very reasonably, why all of his employees are in a heap on the floor.
  • The heap sorts itself, and Mr. Levy tells Gonzalez to write some letters in his name.
  • Ignatius decides that the letters are insufficiently forceful, and forges an incredibly abusive missive to Abelman's Dry Goods.
  • Meanwhile, over at the Night of Joy, Lana Lee tries to figure out why her bar is swarming with policemen all of a sudden.
  • Back at the Reilly home, Mrs. Reilly can't believe her good fortune in finally having Ignatius out of the house.
  • She remembers the night he was conceived—after she and Mr. Reilly saw the romantic film Red Dust—with a shudder.
  • There's a phone call from Santa Battaglia, Officer Mancuso's aunt, and Mrs. Reilly's friend.
  • Santa says an old man has been inquiring about Mrs. Reilly, and suggests he might have a romantic interest.
  • And now we head upscale, to the Levy home, where the Levys are busily and enthusiastically bickering with each other.
  • Mrs. Levy thinks Mr. Levy is a slacker who can't run his business; Mr. Levy thinks Mrs. Levy is a spoiled fool who should shut up and leave him alone. So they disagree.
  • Mrs. Levy wants to bring Miss Trixie to her house and make much of her, but Mr. Levy thinks they should let Miss Trixie retire and leave her alone. So they disagree.
  • Meanwhile, Ignatius is upset because the theater is showing an art movie (probably Ingmar Bergman's 1962 Winter Light).
  • Ignatius admires his former writing projects, but decides he has a new commercial endeavor: He's going to write about his life as a worker at Levy Pants.
  • In his journal, he says he's introduced an innovative new filing system.
  • He contemplates writing a nasty letter to Myrna, but decides he'll wait until he has organized social action at the Levy Pants factory.
  • He plays his lute, and Miss Annie, their neighbor, screams for him to stop as she always does.
  • Before he can get a bucket of water to toss in her window, Mrs. Reilly comes home from bowling with Mancuso and Santa.
  • Santa performs a vigorous and somewhat lewd dance in the kitchen, uniting Ignatius and Miss Annie across the street in disapproval.