Study Guide

The Day of the Locust Summary

By Nathanael West

The Day of the Locust Summary

Tod Hackett, a recent graduate of Yale art school, has moved to Hollywood to work as a costume designer. He had almost quit painting after graduation, but he finds himself reinvigorated by his new L.A. friends, like Abe Kusich. Abe helps Tod get his first apartment, where he meets his new neighbor, Faye Greener.

Faye is a seventeen-year-old wannabe starlet, and Tod is head over heels. Faye? Yeah. She's less enthused. She's got tons of other suitors to choose from, after all, like the fake-cowboy Earle Shoop and the simple-minded Homer Simpson. Tod actually sparks an unlikely friendship with Homer, who's as dull and dumb as bricks.

After Faye's dad dies, she moves in with the forty-something Homer in what she claims is purely a "business" relationship. This upsets Tod, but it's better than the alternative: Faye had initially turned to prostitution after her dad's death. Everything isn't perfect on the home front, though, as Earle and his buddy Miguel have moved into the garage, and Homer lacks the backbone to kick them out.

Everything comes to a head when Miguel hosts a cockfight at Homer's house. The party gets pretty raucous: Earle and Abe come to blows, while Miguel and Faye get frisky. The following day, Tod learns that Faye and Miguel ended up doing the deed, and both of them (along with Earle) are missing. Homer, devastated, claims that he's going home to Idaho.

Tod heads out for dinner but gets caught up in a wild movie premiere, where he spots Homer looking straight-up insane. Homer eventually attacks a small child who tries to play a trick on him, which sparks a huge riot and presumably gets him killed. Tod is beat up pretty badly, too, but he's helped out of the chaos by several police officers who give him a ride home.

For some reason, though, Tod gets it into his head that he's making the sound of the police siren as they drive away. He laughs when he realizes his mistake and starts gleefully imitating the siren.

And on that utterly ambiguous note, we fade to black. Yeesh—West didn't exactly tie this one up with a bow, did he?