Study Guide

The Day of the Locust Chapter 27

By Nathanael West

Chapter 27

  • Tod leaves the restaurant and sees a massive commotion on the street—there's apparently a movie premiere going down at "Kahn's Persian Palace Theatre" (27.1). He decides to kill time by checking it out.
  • It's a chaotic scene. The police are having difficulty holding back the celebrity-hungry mob, many of whom mock Tod as he walks past.
  • Tod's not scared of them, though—they're just a bunch of seemingly harmless, middle-class Americans. Tod thinks about how they "slaved at [...] full, heavy labor" all their lives only to realize that retiring to California is the most boring thing on the planet (27.18).
  • Just as Tod is wondering what happened to Homer, he spots the big galoot traipsing through the crowd. He has a rigid look on his face and is carrying two suitcases.
  • Tod runs over. Homer claims that he's going to Waynesville, though this isn't the way to the station. Tod tries to get him a cab, but Homer walks away.
  • Tod follows Homer to a bench. He tries to grab his suitcase, but Homer's shouts of "Thief!" make him move a short distance away.
  • That's when Tod sees Adore Loomis (the actor-kid we met a while back) standing by a tree, holding a string attached "to an old purse that lay in front of Homer's bench" (27.41). Apparently, Adore is trying to get people to grab the purse, only to pull it away at the last second.
  • Homer ignores Adore's purse, however. Suddenly, the kid takes a stone and throws it at Homer's face. SMACK. Homer freaks out and attacks Adore, stomping on his chest.
  • Tod tries to stop Homer, but he's violently pushed away by the crowd. He sees "Homer rise above the mass for a moment" before getting pulled back down in agony (27.48).
  • Tod is swept away. He gets slammed around pretty hard and his leg gets messed up.
  • That's when Tod comes across a crying little girl with a torn dress. Tod steps back to give her room, but she clings to him, making Tod realize that she's being molested by an old man.
  • Tod attacks the old man and tries to tear his ear straight off. He succeeds in freeing the girl, but she's immediately grabbed by another predatory guy and swept away.
  • Tod ends up on a street where "no one was hysterical" (27.57). He hears people discussing two potential causes of the riot: first, that somebody thought that Gary Cooper had arrived, and second, that a "pervert attacked a child" (27.61). Presumably, these people are talking about Homer.
  • The crowd starts moving again. Tod clings desperately to a metal railing, fighting the pain in his leg by thinking about "The Burning of Los Angeles."
  • Tod now imagines the picture itself: Faye, Harry, Homer, Claude, and himself running away from a mob that isn't much different from the one he now finds himself in.
  • Tod is interrupted mid-mental paint by a police officer. When Tod proves himself too weak to walk, the officer offers to give him a ride to Claude's place.
  • The siren goes off while Tod is in the police car, and "at first he thought he was making the noise himself" (27.86). He laughs when he realizes what the sound actually is and begins imitating it.