Study Guide

Earle Shoop in The Day of the Locust

By Nathanael West

Earle Shoop

Earle Shmoop—er, Shoop is like Zoolander—he might be dumb as bricks, but he makes up for it by being a total stud. So hot right now. Even with this advantage, however, Earle finds himself frustrated by his inability to lock down Faye.

To see how messed up it can get, let's take a look at the love (lust?) triangle between Earle, Faye, and Miguel. Although Faye is ostensibly dating Earle, she and Miguel always seem to get locked into a highly erotic dance sesh whenever they're together. We're talking the whole deal: grinding, twerking, and the occasional foxtrot. Whenever this happens, Earle tries to join in on the groove but finds that "its rhythm was like a smooth glass wall between him and the dancers" (14.129).

Once Earle inevitably fails to join in, he always responds the same way—with violence. He hits Miguel in the head with a bottle while he and Faye boogie down in the canyon. He does even worse when he catches them in bed performing a boogie of the more intimate sort. Like "the people who come to California to die," Earle invariably turns to violence when his desires are thwarted.

Here as elsewhere in the novel, there's a distinct connection between lust and violence. When people don't get what they want, they tend to react by lashing out. Does that get anybody anywhere? Nope. But that doesn't stop anybody.