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The Day of the Locust

Classroom notes
by

Christina PC

on 15 March 2013

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Transcript of The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust Published: 1939
Setting: Time: 1930’s
Setting: Place: Hollywood, California- Great Depression
Author: Nathanael West- (1903-1940) – (died in a car crash)
Point of View: 3rd person omniscient
(primarily engaged in Tod’s perspective)
(at one point moves to Homer’s) BACKGROUND AUTHOR BACKGROUND “the day of the locust is at hand”
What is this an allusion to? Chapter 1: Tom Tod is our protagonist:
Where is his office?
How long has he been in Hollywood?
Where did he graduate from?
What is the title of the picture he is going to paint? chapter 1: allusions The most famous literary or historical reference to locusts is in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, in which God sends a plague of locusts to the pharaoh of Egypt as retribution for refusing to free the enslaved Jews. Millions of locusts swarm over the lush fields of Egypt, destroying its food supplies. Destructive locusts also appear in the New Testament in the symbolic and apocalyptic book of Revelation. Nathanel West
born- Nathaniel Weinstein- changed his name
In 1933, West bought a farm in eastern Pennsylvania but soon got a job as a contract scriptwriter for Columbia Pictures and moved to Hollywood.
West lived on Hollywood Boulevard

The reasons he did this were mixed; most importantly, he was always making attempts to change his identity, and this name change helped him develop his false persona while also not sounding Jewish, rather American.

On December 22, 1940, West and his wife Eileen McKenney were returning to Los Angeles from a hunting trip in Mexico to attend the funeral of his friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald, when he ran a stop sign in El Centro, California, resulting in an accident in which he and McKenney were killed. "He would never again do a fat red barn, old stone wall or sturdy Nantucket fisherman" (60). Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910) was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America. "From the moment he had seen them, he had know that, despite his race, training and heritage, neither Winslow Homer nor Thomas Ryder could be his masters and he turned to Goya and Daumier" (60). FUN FACT-
THE SIMPSONS-
Matt Groening did more than name “Simpsons” characters after Portland streets. The names for many of the show’s oddball characters came from family members, old friends and other obscure personal references.
“I try to give all the names some meaning,” he said.
The name Homer came mostly from Groening’s late father but also from the lead character in a favorite book, “The Day of the Locust” by Nathanael West. MOTIF #1 FUN FACTS Tyrolean hat chapter 1: analysis Why does this start on a movie set?
What type of people does Tod seem drawn to?
What reactions does Tod have to architecture? chapter 2: characters To whom is Tod attracted?
How did he first meet Abe Kusich?
How would you characterize Abe?
What motivates Tod to move into San Berdoo? chapter 2: analysis How have women been portrayed so far?
Men? chapter 3: characters Faye- What is her profession?
Why didn't she go for Tod?
How is "being with Faye" described?
How would you characterize Tod based on the interaction with Faye? Key quotations:
"She was supposed to look inviting, but the invitation wasn't to pleasure" (68). chapter 4: characters Claude Estee
Alice Estee
Mrs. Joan Schwartzen chapter 4: analysis chapter 3: analysis How are costumes used? How is Claude different than Tod? What is Mrs. Jenning's like?
- What did she used to do?
What type of men do the women see?
What type of film do they view?
Who is Tod hoping works for Mrs. Jennings? chapter 5: characters chapter 5: analysis Overall, what type of people have we seen in Hollywood?
How does Mrs. Schwartzen add to the portrayal of women thus far?
What characters seem to be "playing" vs. being "real"? chapter 6: characters Who is Harry?
What does Tod hope will happen?
Who is Homer Simpson? chapter 6: analysis "He didn't mean to be rude but at first gland
this man seemed an exact model for the kind of person who comes to California to die" (79).

How is Harry like the other people? chapter 7: characters chapter 7: analysis "Like most of the people he was interested in, Homer was a Middle-Westerner" (80). What is Homer's background? GOYA SPOILER ALERT!
Trailer for the 1975 film Chapter 8 What is Homer's physical appearance?

Why is Homer afraid to go to sleep?

What happened between Homer and Miss Martin?
Why does it seem Homer was so interested in her?

What is Homer's financial status. What does this information show about him? How does Homer's physical description conflict with his personality? Does it?

How does Miss Martin add to the portrayal of women?

Key Quotes: "For all his size and shape, he looked neither strong nor fertile. He was like one of Picasso's great sterile athletes" (83).

"While making ouf the bill, he bagan to realize how excited he was. It was terrifying" (84). Chapter 8 analysis figurative language tracker "Homer's feelings were so intense that his head bobbled stiffly on his neck like that of a toy Chinese dragon" (85). chapter 9 How does Homer live his life? Is this what you would expect? chapter 9 analysis How is Homer perceived by others? "It was a beggar who had spotted him from the shadow of a doorway. With the infallible instince of his kind, he knew that Homer would be easy" (87). "Except for the Romola Martin incident and perhaps one or two other widely spaced events, the forty years of his life had been entirely without exceitement. As a bookkepper, he had worked mechanically, totaling figures and making entries with the same impersonal detachment that he now opened cans of soup and made his bed" (88). chapters 10,11,12 10-12: Homer, Faye, Harry analysis "Between the sun, the lizard, and the house, he was fairly well occupied. but whether he was happy or not it is hard to say. Probably he was neither, just as a plant is neither" (89). "Home didn't appreciate the performance in the least. He was terrified and wondered whether to phone the police. But he did nothing. He just help up his hand for Harry to stop" (92). What type of man is Homer?

Is the "lizard and fly face off" which side is Homer on? What does this show about him? (89)

What does the scene between Harry and Homer tell you about each character?

What does the scene between Faye and Homer tell you about each character? "He was unaware of her rudeness" (95). "Her odd mannerisms and artificial voice puzzled him" (94). "Their bitterest quarrels often took this form; he laughing, she singing" (96). "But in Homer's case it would be like dropping a spark into a barn full of hay. He had escaped in the Romola Martin incident, but he wouldn't escape again" (102). "There are others, still more fortunate, who are like the filaments of an incandescent lamp. They burn fiercely, yet nothing is destroyed. But in Homer's case it would be like dropping a spark into a barn full of hay" (102). "His thoughts frightened him and he bolted into the house, hoping to leave them behind like a hat" (102). Chapter 18 Analysis Purpose:

Dreams vs. Reality
Artificiality
Symbols What does Tod venture through?
What is Faye's role? chapter 19 Why are the extras happy about their wounds?
Where has Faye been while Tod looked for her?
Where is Faye living now? What arrangement has been made? What do you think about this?
Who is Mrs. Loomis and who is her son?
What is her son's talent?
How was Tod able to avoid Faye for months? Chapt. 18 Art references " He had begun to think not only of Goya and Daumier but also of certain Italian artists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, of Salvator Rosa, Francesco Guardi and Monsu Desiderio, the painters of Decay and Mystery" (131-132) Salvator Rosa, The Crucifiction of Polycrates, c. 1663-64, The Art Institute of Chicago analysis
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