The Day of the Locust

by: Nathanael West

Important Quotations Explained

He began to wonder if he himself didn't suffer from the ingrained, morbid apathy he liked to draw in others. Maybe he could only be galvanized into sensibility and that was why he was chasing Faye.

This passage marks the moment, in Chapter 19, when Tod vows to give up his obsession with Faye. The quotation points to one of the difficulties the novel presents: that of causality. Tod recognizes that chasing Faye has inspired in him a desperation similar to that experienced by the people who "have come to California to die." He makes it unclear, however, whether Faye herself—as a sexual woman and a performer—creates this kind of emotion in her followers, or whether Tod has only made himself vulnerable to her because of his attempts to share the feelings of the subjects of his painting. Indeed, it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the apathy and spontaneous violence that characterizes so many characters in The Day of the Locust. The novel, therefore, is not so much a plot line constructed of causes and effects as a more general tableau of these desperate qualities.