Study Guide

The Day of the Locust Quotes

  • Identity

    Chapter 1

    Yet, despite his appearance, he was really a very complicated young man with a whole set of personalities, one inside the other like a nest of Chinese boxes. (1.8)

    This is a nice way of saying that Tod is funny looking. Still, you'd be wrong to peg him as a simpleton. Although you might end up detesting many aspects of Tod's personality by the end of the novel, there's no debating the fact that he's a complex guy. Whether that's a good thing, however, is entirely up for debate.

    A great many of the people wore sports clothes which were not really sports clothes. [...] The fat lady in the yachting hat was going shopping, not boating. (1.9)

    Contradictions between individuals and their clothes appear quite frequently in the novel. Although the idea of wearing "sports clothes" while not playing sports might not seem all that weird in today's era of basketball shorts and running shoes, it's a disparity well worth noting.

    Chapter 4

    "Here, you black rascal! A mint julep."

    A Chinese servant came running with a Scotch and soda. (4.4)

    For some reason, Claude is obsessed with acting like an old Southern plantation owner. Although we find this both weird and gross, we have to admit that West nails the comedic timing here. It's all fantasy here, and the fantasy isn't even accurate.

    Chapter 13

    Had any other girl been so affected, he would have thought her intolerable. Faye's affectations, however, were so completely artificial that he found them charming. (13.3)

    Ah, the unassailable logic of a man in love. Putting aside Tod's creepiness, Faye reveals herself here to have an even wider variety of identities than he does. She is an actor, after all. Regardless, Faye wears so many different hats that we sometimes have trouble seeing the real Faye underneath them all. If there is a real Faye, that is.

    All these little stories, these little daydreams of hers, were what gave such extraordinary color and mystery to her movements. (13.25)

    It's helpful that men create their own, custom-designed identities to place on Faye. After all, does Tod really know anything about this seventeen-year-old girl? Or is he just making assumptions based on an image that only exists in his mind?

    Chapter 15

    He also noticed that Harry, like many actors, had very little back or top to his head. It was almost all face, like a mask. (15.12)

    Like his daughter, Harry has more identities than he knows what to do with. To go even further, this image implies that he's pretended to be other people for so long that he's lost the capacity to be himself. That's a frightening thought.

    Chapter 16

    Tod thought he understood their suddenly change to slang. It made them feel worldly and realistic, and so more able to cope with serious thing. (16.72)

    This is Tod's explanation for Faye's constant use of slang: she finds it comforting to act like the women she sees in movies who manage difficult situation with a haughty laugh and a string of profanity. It makes her feel as strong as they seem to be. But here's the thing, folks—that image isn't real.

    Chapter 20

    When he had finished, there was a great deal of applause. The young man shook himself and became an actor again. [...] His imitation of a man was awkward and obscene. (20.59)

    For context, this dude has just finished a drag performance that greatly impressed Tod with its effortless femininity. Note the irony here: the performer only becomes an actor when he steps off stage and resumes his life as a male-presenting person. That makes us wonder how many other characters are stuck in similar positions.

    Chapter 22

    Faye alone remaining standing. She was completely self-possessed despite their stares. She stood with one hip thrown out and her hand on it. (22.15)

    During the final party at Homer's place, Faye plays the role of the saucy performer for an audience of lust-struck schmucks. They even gather around her like it's theater in the round. Interestingly, this is also the moment when Faye seems most comfortable in her own skin.

    Chapter 26

    Nothing could hurt her. She was like a cork. No matter how rough the sea got, she would go dancing over the same waves that sank iron ships. (26.31)

    This passage jumps out at us because we're not sure if it's true. After all, would you be confident about the safety of a seventeen-year-old ex-prostitute who is possibly in the care of a demonstrably violent cowboy wannabe? No way. Even after all that's happened, however, Tod still can't see past the identity he's crafted for Faye.

  • Disappointment

    Chapter 1

    When their stare was returned, their eyes filled with hatred. At this time Tod knew very little about them except that they had come to California to die. (1.10)

    Tod is obsessed with "the people who come to California to die." Although we don't understand this oft-repeated phrase at first, it quickly becomes clear that these people—whoever they are—are driven by feelings of disappointment. They come to California because there's nothing else for them, and they soon realize that California doesn't have anything for them, either. And that's never a good thing, folks.

    Chapter 9

    His emotions surged up in an enormous wave [...] until it seemed as though the wave must carry everything before it. But the crash never came. (9.1)

    This is disappointment of a different sort: emotional disappointment. Homer has a lot of trouble understanding his emotions, which inevitably leads to him bottling them up like soda pop. No matter how hard he shakes that bottle, however, he's unable to release the contents once they're inside.

    Chapter 10

    The lizard was self-conscious and irritable. [...] Whenever one of its elaborate stalks was foiled, it would shift about uneasily on its short legs and puff out its throat (10.8)

    Sound familiar? This grumpy lizard is just like the main characters of the novel, dedicated to achieving a distant goal and then ticked beyond belief when he utterly fails to reach it. Although Homer tends to laugh at the lizard when it makes a fool of itself like this, he fails to see the obvious parallel to his own life.

    Chapter 12

    He tried to think of how very tired he was, but he wasn't tired. He felt more alive than he had at any time since Romola Martin. (12.6)

    Faye manages to shake some of Homer's feelings of disappointment, but that's like fighting a forest fire with a Super Soaker. Interestingly, however, Homer is disappointed by the things he didn't do, which is a slightly different situation from the other main characters'.

    Only those who still have hope can benefit from tears. [...] But to those without hope [...] whose anguish is basic and permanent, no good comes from crying. (12.12)

    Wow—that's a tough pill to swallow. Although Tod does not consider Homer to be "a person who comes to California to die," he seems to fit the bill in more ways than one. He moved out after his retirement. He lives a boring life, even if he doesn't mind it. And, most importantly, he's really, really sad. So where's the distinction?

    Chapter 19

    He began to wonder if he himself didn't suffer from the ingrained, morbid apathy he liked to draw in others. (19.119)

    Huh, you think? Although Tod is adept at looking at other people and identifying their repressed feelings of disappointment, he frequently proves himself incapable of diagnosing the same sickness in himself.

    Tod didn't laugh at the man's rhetoric. He knew it was unimportant. What mattered were his messianic rage and the emotional response of his hearers. (19.124)

    In other words, the fact that people respond positively to this dude's crazy words is more meaningful than the craziness of those words. After all, people wouldn't latch on to such blatant tomfoolery unless they were already hopeless, having endured so many disappointments in their lives that snake-oil salesmen are their only hope.

    Chapter 27

    All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor [...] saving their pennies and dreaming of the leisure that would be theirs when they had enough. (27.18)

    Finally, during the riot that closes the novel, Tod fully explains his theory on "the people who come to California to die." To our surprise, they're just regular people: working stiffs who slaved away their entire lives for a blissful, preferably tropical retirement. Their only mistake was landing in Los Angeles. Should have kept flying, folks.

    They haven't the mental equipment for leisure, the money nor the physical equipment for pleasure. Did they slave so long just to go to an occasional Iowa picnic? (27.19)

    After retirement, these people realize they've been sold a bill of goods. Silly rabbit: retirement is for the rich. Additionally, it's important to note that The Day of the Locust was written in the midst of the Great Depression, when the disparity between the haves and have-nots was higher than at any other period in American history.

    Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars. (27.20)

    Here is another cause of the widespread disappointment critiqued by The Day of the Locust. Having been raised in a modern, media-saturated environment, individuals have been conditioned to expect excitement in their lives. But, as we all know (hopefully), life isn't like the movies. It's dull at times. It's painful at others. If you can't admit that to yourself, you're going to have a rough ride.

  • Appearances

    Chapter 1

    His large, sprawling body, his slow blues eyes and sloppy grin made him seem completely without talent, almost doltish in fact. (1.7)

    We start things off with Tod, who looks more like a dude stocking shelves at Wal-Mart than a mega-talented visual artist. No wonder Faye refuses to give him the time of day. Regardless, his relatable appearance helps put people at ease with him in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles.

    Chapter 6

    At first glance this man seemed an exact model for the kind of person who comes to California to die [...] down to the fever eyes and unruly hands. (6.17)

    Although Tod ultimately concludes that Homer didn't "come to California to die," we think he might want a second opinion. Sure, there are things that set Homer apart—he actually enjoys boredom, for instance—but the similarities are too plentiful to be ignored.

    Chapter 13

    "It's sure-fire," Tod said earnestly, staring at her wet lips and the tiny point of her tongue which she kept moving between them. (13.22)

    Ah, the classic sleight of hand routine—get your audience to focus on one hand while you use your left to trick them. Only in this instance, Faye is using her beauty to distract her audience (those throngs of adoring men) from the fact that she's as dense as a brick.

    He commented on her appearance. He did a bad job of it. He was incapable of direct flattery and got bogged down in a much too roundabout observation. (13.12)

    It seems to happen whenever Faye enters a room: her beauty is so overwhelming that it renders every nearby straight male incapable of coherent speech. Of course, Tod is hardly an articulate dude even in the best of times, so we can imagine that he makes a real mess of this one.

    Chapter 14

    Tod could see why Faye thought him handsome. He had a two-dimensional face that a talented child might have drawn with a ruler and a compass. (14.5)

    Now that's a complisult (part compliment, part insult) if we've ever heard one. Tod's description of Earle's physical appearance shows us what he really thinks about this bargain-bin cowboy, alluding to Earle's simple-mindedness by comparing him to a child's drawing.

    Chapter 17

    She had never looked more beautiful. She was wearing a new, very tight black dress and her platinum hair was tucked up in a shining bun. (17.8)

    Naturally, the first thing Tod does upon arriving at Harry Greener's funeral is check out the dead man's daughter. Charming. But it's also worth noting that Faye chose to get done up to the nines for the funeral—there was nothing stopping her from dressing modestly.

    He had found an argument. Disease would destroy her beauty. He shouted at her like a Y.M.C.A. lecturer in sex hygiene. (17.27)

    Here, Tod uses Faye's beauty against her by planting the fear of ugliness in her head. Could you imagine anything more horrifying? Laugh all you want, but the proof is in the pudding—this technique works like a charm.

    Raging at her, she was still beautiful. That was because her beauty was structural like a tree's, not a quality of her mind or heart. (17.25)

    Ouch—Faye's going to need some ice for that burn. Basically, Tod is saying that her beauty is purely physical and not related in any way whatsoever to the person beneath her perfect skin. You might think that this would help him get over her, but you couldn't be more wrong.

    Chapter 19

    She was smiling, a subtle half-smile uncontaminated by thought. She looked just born, everything moist and fresh, volatile and perfumed. (19.117)

    Faye's seeming innocence is what draws so many men to her. Though she tries to cover up this aspect of herself at times, acting instead like the grizzled leading ladies from her favorite Hollywood movies, she can never fully escape her youthful innocence. And why would she want to?

    Chapter 22

    Her gestures and expression [...] didn't really illustrate what she was saying. [...] It was as though her body [...] tried to excite her hearers into being uncritical. (22.36)

    Here's an important thing to note: Faye is well aware of the effect she has on men. Still, she's not quite the expert seductress Tod believes her to be—if she were, she'd probably be an A-Lister already. Though Faye uses her beauty to her advantage, she does it without entirely understanding what she's doing.

  • Visions of Hollywood

    Chapter 1

    On the corner of La Huerta Road was a miniature Rhine castle. [...] Next to it was a highly colored shack [...] out of the Arabian Nights. (1.17)

    Hollywood features a ton of different architectural styles thrown together with no rhyme or reason. It's like the tackiest thing ever. On a symbolic level, however, this imagery seems to be a critique of the inauthenticity at the core of life in Tinseltown.

    Chapter 10

    But whether he was happy or not is hard to say. Probably he was neither, just as a plant is neither. (10.10)

    This quote is about Homer, but we think that it could apply to a lot of people in Hollywood. These folks go through the motions of everyday life completely oblivious to their true emotions and feelings.

    Chapter 14

    Maybe they weren't really desperate enough to set a single city on fire, let alone the whole country. (14.136)

    Tod spends a lot of time thinking about "the people who come to California to die"—the same group he believes will burn L.A. to the ground. He traces their disappointment to the broken promises of the American Dream.

    He made an effort to put Faye out of his mind and began to think about the series of cartoons he was making for his canvas of Los Angeles on fire. (14.135)

    We don't think that Tod actually likes Los Angeles– after all, why else would he be obsessed with painting the city being burned down the ground? Sounds like a secret fantasy to us. Unfortunately, there are plenty of Hollywood citizens who are just like Tod, torn between love and hate for the city where dreams come to die.

    Chapter 15

    The Angelenos would be first, but their comrades all over the country would follow. There would be civil war. (15.137)

    Tod's imagery becomes increasingly apocalyptic as the novel goes on. As he further explores the dark, seedy underbelly of glamorous Hollywood, he becomes convinced that the city—and perhaps the country—will soon be destroyed.

    Chapter 18

    Throwing away his cigarette, he went through the swinging doors of the saloon. There was no back to the building and he found himself in Paris street. (18.6)

    Like the ridiculously styled luxury homes, this series of movie sets show us the falseness at the core of Hollywood. It's a trippy scene: Tod basically travels backwards in time as he runs through a series of film sets. Somebody call Doc Brown, right?

    Just as that imaginary body of water was a history of civilization in the form of marine junkyard, the studio lot was one in the form of a dream dump. (18.12)

    That's some highfalutin' talk, but we think we understand what Tod is getting at. No one expects to see a realistic historical account in a Hollywood movie—there are way too few explosions in real life. Because of this, historical films are less about our actual past than our conception ofor dreams about the past.

    Chapter 19

    "I'm a raw-foodist, myself," she said. "Dr. Pierce is our leader. You must have seen his ads–'Know-All Pierce-All.'" (19.76)

    Of course, it wouldn't be California without some good old-fashioned hippie wackadoodles. (Okay, there weren't actually any hippies around at this point, but whatever.) To Tod, this is more evidence of the emptiness of modern American life. After all, how bad must things have become for people to buy so readily into the false promises of snake-oil salesmen?

    The message he had brought to the city was one that an illiterate anchorite might have given decadent Rome. It was a crazy jumble of dietary rules, economics, and Biblical threats. (19.123)

    Here's another example of the weird nonsense Hollywood-ians flock to like bees to honey. As Tod mentions, however, the ridiculousness of this message isn't as important as the fact that the entire audience buys into it hook, line, and sinker. There will always be crazy people out there, but you know things are bad when the crazy people are the leaders.

    Chapter 27

    Once there, they discover that sunshine isn't enough. They get tired of oranges, even of avocado pears and passion fruit. (27.19)

    This is Tod's diagnosis of "the people who come to California to die." After working hard their entire lives, these people fulfill their dreams of retiring to Los Angeles, only to learn that it isn't all it's cracked up to be. That's a horrifying realization.

  • Art and Culture

    Chapter 1

    They were the people he felt he must paint. He would never again do a fat red barn, old stone wall or sturdy Nantucket fisherman. (1.11)

    Although Tod's passion for painting started plummeting as soon as he graduated from art school, he finds himself reinvigorated by the weirdos and nutjobs littered along the Sunset Strip. It's like he hit the jackpot of artistic inspiration.

    The pleasures [...] had decreased as [...] he realized that he was going [...] toward illustration or mere handsomeness. (1.12)

    Tod is frustrated by the clichéd nature of most modern paintings. Think about it this way—Tod wants to create something as impactful as "Starry Night," while his peers are content with painting dogs sitting around a poker table.

    When the Hollywood job had come along, he had grabbed it despite the arguments of his friends who were certain that he was selling out and would never paint again. (1.12)

    At this point in his life, Tod is pretty okay with selling out. Whatever puts bread on the table, right? Luckily for him, however, he discovers that Los Angeles is filled with a wealth of artistic inspiration. Okay, so it's not exactly the prettiest or most polite inspiration in the world, but we're pretty sure that Tod doesn't mind one bit.

    Chapter 2

    Despite the sincere indignation that Abe's grotesque depravity aroused in him, he welcomed his company. The little man [...] made him feel certain of his need to paint. (2.11)

    What do you think it is about Abe that Tod finds so inspirational? Is it his seemingly boundless stores of energy? Is it his feisty attitude, more pugnacious than that of a pit bull pup? Or is it just that little people make good subjects for paintings?

    Chapter 13

    In "The Burning of Los Angeles" Faye is the naked girl in the left foreground being chased by the group of men and women who have separated from the main body of the mob. (13.38)

    As we learn over the course of the novel, "The Burning of Los Angeles" is Tod's masterpiece. It contains references to practically every aspect of his Hollywood life, including his obsession with Faye, his friendship with Abe, and his compassion for Homer Simpson. Because of this, we look at the painting as Tod's way of coping with his stressful life.

    Chapter 14

    He told himself that it didn't make any difference because he was an artist, not a prophet. [...] Nevertheless he refused to give up the role of Jeremiah. (14.137)

    As he continues work on "The Burning of Los Angeles," Tod starts going a little bit crazy. No longer is the fire that burns Los Angeles a metaphor—now he sees it as a prediction of future calamities. Although the foolishness of this belief is not lost on him, Tod is unable to fully push it from his mind.

    Chapter 19

    He shut the portfolio that held the drawings he had made of her, tied it with a string, and put it away in his trunk. (19.120)

    This is Tod's method for getting over Faye, and it actually works pretty well. It also confirms to us that Tod's art amplifies his feelings (whether he realizes it or not) in some borderline unhealthy ways.

    Chapter 27

    After his quarrel with Faye, he had worked on it continually to escape tormenting himself, and the way to it in his mind had become almost automatic. (27.80)

    This makes us think that Tod never really gets over Faye—instead, he simply shifts his obsession from her to his painting. Works well, sure, but it's not too healthy. In this way, Tod has practically become one of the people who inspired him to paint—a person who comes to Hollywood with big hopes only to see them disappointed.

    Despite the agony in his leg, he was able to think clearly about his picture, "The Burning of Los Angeles." (27.80)

    To be honest, we never see Tod actually work on "The Burning of Los Angeles." Instead, we only see him imagine working on it in order to avoid thinking about something else. Why do you think that is? Is he just another one of those people who come to California to die?

    For the faces of its members, he was using [...] the people who come to California to die [...] who can only be stirred by the promise of miracles and then only to violence. (27.81)

    Tod gets up close and personal with these people who come to California to die during the riot that closes the book. It's actually quite odd—the riot is a close parallel to the scene depicted in "The Burning of Los Angeles." Maybe the dude is a prophet, after all. Or maybe it's his artistic vision that helps him see what's really going on under the surface among the denizens of L.A.

  • Lust

    Chapter 3

    Her invitation wasn't to pleasure, but to struggle, hard and sharp, closer to murder than to love. (3.8)

    Okay, Tod, cool it with the emo song lyrics. The fact that Tod describes his feeling towards Faye in terms of violence says a lot about his perception of the girl and their relationship.

    He [...] fixed his collar and tie, but his eyes kept straying to the photograph that was pushed into the upper corner of the frame. (3.1)

    You know you're thirsty when you can't even put on your clothes without obsessing about your crush. Although Tod is a great deal older (and hopefully more mature) than Faye, that doesn't stop him from going into full-on creeper mode.

    Chapter 4

    "I've been chasing a girl and it's like carrying something a little too large to conceal in your pocket, like a briefcase or a small valise. It's uncomfortable." (4.68)

    Is that a small valise in your pocket, or are you just happy to see us? Although Tod resists his feelings at first, he quickly realizes that he's powerless to stop them. So what is he supposed to do? Throw away her phone number? Tear up all the paintings he's made of her? Take a dozen cold showers?

    Chapter 5

    Perhaps Faye also worked for Mrs. Jenning. If so, for thirty dollars… (5.37)

    Gross. Tod's obsession with Faye has grown to such staggering proportions that he even fantasizes about her being a prostitute. Because, you know, if she's a prostitute, then he could just pay…

    Chapter 8

    How bold the creature was! She was drunk, of course, but not so drunk that she didn't know what she was doing. He hurriedly labeled his excitement disgust. (8.20)

    Like Tod, Homer has had plenty of battles with lust. Unlike Tod, however, Homer actually seems capable of controlling himself. But that doesn't mean he escapes scot-free: although he turns down the woman's advances, he's haunted by the thought of what could have been.

    Chapter 11

    Although she was seventeen, she was dressed like a child of twelve in a white cotton dress with a blue sailor collar. Her long legs were bare and she had blue sandals on her feet. (11.77)

    We've included this passage because it's the first mention of Faye's age. This completely changes our perception of her: if we had known that she was seventeen right from the get-go, we'd have been a lot more critical of Tod's obsession. It's also worth noting that Faye looks even younger than she really is, which makes us think that her innocence only makes her more desirable in the eyes of lonely, lusty men.

    Chapter 12

    There are men who can lust with parts of themselves. [...] [O]thers [...] burn fiercely, yet nothing is destroyed. But in Homer's case it would be like dropping a spark into a barn full of hay. (12.3)

    Well, at least Tod's emo song lyrics have improved. Although the focus of this passage is on Homer's inability to control his emotions, it raises an interesting question in our minds—which of these categories does Tod fit into? Is he able to lust without destroying himself? Or is he tinder ready for the burning, like Homer?

    Chapter 13

    He expressed some of his desire by a grunt. If he only had the courage to throw himself on her. Nothing less violent than rape would do. (13.26)

    We thought that Tod was a decent dude at first (if a little odd), but this passage completely changes our perception of him. While there's no indication that he'd actually go through with rape, the thought reveals the specter of violence often hidden behind lust.

    Chapter 19

    Her self-sufficiency made him squirm and desire to break its smooth surface with a blow, or at least a sudden gesture, became irresistible. (19.118)

    Once Tod realizes that he'll never get with Faye, his lust for her takes a noticeably dark turn. In these twisted fantasies, he sees her innocence as something to be squashed and her strength as something to be dominated. What a scumbag, right? The scummiest of all the bags, even.

    Chapter 22

    Having once seen her secret smile and the things that accompanied it, he wanted to make her repeat it again and again. (22.33)

    Even Claude catches the bug by the end of the novel. Now that he's not the one being toyed with, though, Tod is able to look at the situation dispassionately and see it as the farce it really is. Still, we kind of doubt he has the capability to apply this knowledge to his own life.

  • Ambition

    Chapter 6

    On stage he was a complete failure and knew it. Yet he claimed to have once come very close to success. (6.7)

    Sounds like a real charmer. Although he has long since retired from the clowning game, Harry is unable to forget about his past and stop wondering what his career could have been. Over time, this eats away at him.

    After trying to get a job by inserting a small advertisement in Variety ("...'some producer should put Mr. Greener into a big revue…' The Times"), he had come to Hollywood. (6.15)

    Of course, Harry conveniently leaves out the part that says this would in fact be a bad idea, but the guy tends to play fast and loose with the truth. After all, how valuable is truth if it doesn't help you get to where you're going? One might make an argument about "morality" or something, but morality isn't worth much in Hollywood.

    Chapter 11

    "My father isn't really a peddler," she said, abruptly. "He's an actor. I'm an actress. My mother was also an actress, a dancer. The theatre is in our blood." (11.147)

    Like father, like daughter. Faye conveniently leaves out a few facts: that her father was a clown, not a movie star, and that she's only been an extra in movies. Like her old man, however, Faye has a finely tuned ability to sell herself and throw circumstances and good taste to the wind. And it works like a charm.

    "I'm going to be a star some day," she announced as though daring him to contradict her [...] "If I'm not, I'll commit suicide." (11.154)

    Yeeesh, talk about commitment. Although we seriously doubt that Faye would commit suicide, the fact that she would drop this nugget so causally into conversation shows the extent of her desire for success. Man, this book makes us feel like we're taking crazy pills.

    Chapter 13

    He agreed and she described her plan. It was very vague until she came to what she considered would be its results, then she went into concrete details. (13.16)

    Faye tends to work backwards, starting with her desired outcome and then kind of sort of figuring out how to get there. As it happens, this isn't always the best way to get things done. If nothing else, however, this conversation should show Tod once and for all that he's barking up the wrong tree.

    One evening, they talked about what she did [...] when she wasn't working as an extra. She told him that she often spent the whole day making up stories. (13.70)

    This is an important scene because it says a lot about Faye's weird sense of ambition. She doesn't have dreams. She doesn't have passions. She doesn't even have talent, if we're being real. What she is good at, however, is thinking of plans for the future, even if those plans have no shot at ever becoming reality.

    Chapter 19

    She was living in Homer Simpson's house. The arrangement was a business one. Homer had agreed to board and dress her until she became a star. (19.4)

    It's a little weird, sure, but if this arrangement actually helps Faye reach stardom, then it can't be that bad, right? Of course, Homer's obvious attraction toward Faye will make this "business" deal more complicated than a customer service call to Comcast.

    Chapter 22

    She went on and on, telling him how careers are made in the movies and how she intended to make hers. It was all nonsense. (22.35)

    Faye reveals herself to be completely ignorant to the reality of show biz when she meets Claude, one of the few characters who are actually successful. It's a pretty hilarious scene. Instead of shutting up and taking tips from a wizened vet, Faye makes a fool of herself by spewing half-baked nonsense taken from magazines.

    Chapter 27

    Tod knew the game the child was playing [...] If Homer reached to pick up the purse, thinking there was money in it, he would yank it away and scream with laughter. (27.42)

    This, we think, is the perfect metaphor for ambition in The Day of Locust: as soon as you reach the prize you've been working toward, it's abruptly stolen away from you. After all, do we meet any character who actually realizes his or her ambitions? Claude might fit the bill, sure, but he seems pretty discontent about his life as a producer.

    She was one of that army of women who drag their children from casting office to casting office and sit for [...] months, waiting for a chance to show what Junior can do. (19.64)

    Tod seems caught between hatred and admiration when confronted by Adore's swooning stage-mom. On one hand, he rightfully criticizes her for her obsessive focus on fame and success. On the other, however, he's careful to note the many sacrifices she's made to better her children's lives. What do you think about this one?

  • Passivity

    Chapter 7

    It was only the second house the real estate agent showed him, but he took it because he was tired and because the agent was a bully. (7.3)

    Homer is so passive that he can't even stand up to a real estate agent, so we shudder to think what might happen if some real trouble were to come his way. Would he be able to handle it? Or would he just curl up into a fetal position and suck his thumb?

    Chapter 10

    His hands seemed to have a life and a will of their own. It was they who pulled the sheets tight and shaped the pillows. (10.2)

    The book frequently references the strange divide between Homer and his hands. In a way, this is a reflection of the separation between Homer's conscious and unconscious mind—because he is unable to understand his emotions, he's unable to understand his own actions.

    Chapter 19

    After she had gone, he wondered what living with her would do to Homer. He thought it might straighten him out. (19.6)

    At first, Tod thinks that living with Faye will do wonders for Homer and his lack of self-confidence. After all, what's a better pick-me-up than a sexy lady running around the house? Ah, if only it were that simple...

    They had breakfast around ten, she went on. Homer brought it to her in bed. He took a housekeeping magazine and fixed the tray like the pictures in it. (19.11)

    Instead of empowering Homer, Faye turns him into a bona fide servant. Homer doesn't mind too much, naturally, as he's always found a great deal of relief in doing housework. Regardless, Tod sees Faye taking advantage of Homer, but he knows that the big galoot is incapable of putting his foot down, so, like much else in this novel, there's not anything Tod himself can do about it.

    Chapter 20

    When she turned to Homer again, he leaned away as though she were going to hit him. She flushed with shame at this and looked at Tod to see if he had noticed (20.126)

    This passage seems to imply that Faye is literally physically abusive toward Homer. This shouldn't be all that surprising, of course, given that we've already witnessed Faye punching her dad in the face for laughing too hard. Plus, we're pretty confident that Homer would never raise a finger towards her if she did hit him, no matter how hard her pint-sized punches got.

    He opened his mouth to reply and she poured the brandy into it, then clapped her hands over his lips so that he couldn't spit it back. (20.25)

    Wow—does this count as assault? If not, then it's at least a party foul, right? Jokes aside, you know that you're being overly passive when someone can just shove a drink down your throat without repercussions. How does something like that even happen?

    His servility was like that of a cringing, clumsy dog, who is always anticipating a blow [...] and in a way that makes overwhelming the desire to strike him. (20.3)

    As the novel continues, Tod loses sympathy for Homer and instead starts despising him for being passive. Maybe he's fed up. Maybe he's jealous of Homer's relationship with Faye. Or maybe he just realizes that Homer is incapable of change.

    Chapter 24

    The red velvet curtains were all drawn tight, but he could see Homer sitting on the couch and staring at the back of his hands. (24.4)

    Faye's departure sends Homer into a passive trance the likes of which the world has never seen: he hardly moves or says a word. If you're asking us, we'd say that the overwhelming emotional experience of the past few days just straight-up broke the dude.

    Chapter 27

    Homer walked more than ever like a badly made automaton and his features were set in a rigid, mechanical grin. (27.23)

    Yup, good old Hollywood pretty much turns people into robots. It makes sense: if everything and everyone in Hollywood is fake, just a surface with nothing substantial underneath it, then the only way to get by is to become just a surface yourself. Just about everyone in this book has been so busy hiding his or her true self that it's hard to say if any true selves are even left anywhere.

    "But that'll only get rid of the Mexican," Tod said. "You have to throw Earle out yourself." (22.80)

    At this point, Homer is hopeless. Faye's ex-boyfriend is living in Homer's garage. That ex-boyfriend's best friend is hosting chicken fights in the front yard. Both of them flirt with Faye like whoa. If that's not grounds to boot them, then we don't know what is.