Study Guide

The Day of the Locust La Predicament de Marie

By Nathanael West

La Predicament de Marie

La Predicament de Marie is the bizarre dirty movie that Tod and Claude watch at Mrs. Jenning's whorehouse. It might not be a five-star masterpiece, but it's a fascinating reflection of many of the novel's themes.

The titular Marie is a servant to a middle-class household, and "it was evident that [...] the whole family desired" her (5.23). Sounds like a certain seventeen-year-old starlet whose name rhymes with "Neigh," right? What's most interesting about this, however, is that Marie doesn't have feelings for the father, son, or mother—she's in love with the young daughter, who's almost a reflection of Marie herself.

Well, well—that's just like our Faye, who's the subject of every straight man in this book's fantasies, but who really only loves herself, or some image of herself she's trying to project. Everything about Faye and her men is a fantasy: we've got erotic fantasies, narcissistic fantasies, fantasies of success—you name it. The key is that none of these fantasies can possibly be fulfilled.

Ultimately, we never get to see the film's ending—a technical malfunction cuts it short and sparks a "mock riot" that hints at the one that closes the novel (5.34). This is one of the novel's many anti-climaxes, which we see as West's illustration of the disappointment inherent in these people's superficial lives. But more than that, there can't be an ending to the movie, right? Nothing can be resolved, because it's all just a silly fantasy.