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The Day of the Locust

CRITIQUE | THE TEXT | THE MOVIE

The Day of the Locust first editionFirst edition
By Nathanael West
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
1939

Literary form
Novel

Genres
Literary, satire

Writing language
English

Author's country
United States

Length
Approx. 52,500 words

Notable lines

First lines

Around quitting time, Tod Hackett heard a great din on the road outside his office. The groan of leather mingled with the jangle of iron and over all beat the tattoo of a thousand hooves. He hurried to the window.

Passages

She wasn’t hard-boiled. It was just that she put love on a special plane, where a man without money or looks couldn’t move.

Being with her was like being backstage during an amateurish, ridiculous play. From in front, the stupid lines and grotesque situations would have made him squirm with annoyance, but because he saw the perspiring stagehands and the wires that held up the tawdry summerhouse with its tangle of paper flowers, he accepted everything and was anxious for it to succeed.

He got out of bed in sections, like a poorly made automaton, and carried his hands into the bathroom. He turned on the cold water. When the basin was full, he plunged his hands in up to the wrists. They lay quietly on the bottom like a pair of strange aquatic animals.

Only those who still have hope can benefit from tears. When they finish, they feel better. But to those without hope, like Homer, whose anguish is basic and permanent, no good come from crying, Nothing changes for them. They usually know this, but still can't help crying.

Last lines

The siren began to scream and at first he thought he was making the noise himself. He felt his lips with his hands. They were clamped tight. He knew then it was the siren. For some reason this made him laugh and he began to imitate the siren as loud as he could.

— Eric McMillan

 

CRITIQUE | THE TEXT | THE MOVIE

See also:

Novel
The Great Gatsby

Novel
The Bonfire of the Vanities

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