Day of the Locust

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Novel by Nathanael West, published in 1939.

Tod Hackett, a recent Yale graduate in the 1930s, moves to Hollywood to make set and costume designs for a film studio while also pursuing his own painting. There he meets Faye Greener and her father, Harry, a down-and-out actor reduced to selling homemade silver polish door to door. One of his customers, Homer Simpson, a bland 40-year-old bookkeeper, becomes enamored of Faye and in a “business arrangement” offers her lodging in his cottage just to aid her. She in turn houses a cowboy from Arizona and a young Mexican in the garage, stages a drunken party at Homer's house, and goes to bed with Miguel, the Mexican. Disillusioned, Homer walks to the railroad station to return to Utah but on the way is attacked by a pesky boy and knocks him down. Then Homer is attacked by a swarming crowd of people who had gathered to see the arrival of stars at a premiere and out of boredom were seeking any excitement they might find. In a frenzied scene, reminiscent of Tod's surrealistic painting, The Burning of Los Angeles, the mob overwhelms Homer and Tod loses his own self-control.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Nathanael West (1903—1940)

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