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The Day of the Locust

Nathanael West

Chapters 20–21

Chapter 18–19

Chapters 20–21, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 20

As Faye and Homer continue their business arrangement, she becomes bored and aggressive toward him. In response, he becomes more servile, making her even angrier. One night, Homer knocks on Tod's door, explaining that Faye is in the car and wants them all to go to a nightclub. They drive to the Cinderella Bar, where the show consists of men in drag. Faye insists that Homer have a drink, although he never drinks because it makes him sick. Faye pours Homer's first drink down the front of his shirt when he refuses to open his mouth, then orders another and another for him and forces them into his mouth.

Tod and Faye dance and she begins to cry. He pleads with her to sleep with him, but she refuses because she says she does not love him. When they return to the table, Homer seems tipsy and willing to be a good sport. Faye continues to deride him. The three of them watch a man in a red dress sing a lullaby to an imaginary baby. During the song, the man seems truly a woman to Tod, and only appears to be an actor impersonating a man after the song ends. Homer and Tod applaud, but Faye claims she hates "fairies," then asks Homer meanly if he knows what a fairy is.

A man comes and asks Faye to dance. Homer elaborately explains to Tod that he hates Earle Shoop's one black hen that gets bullied by the gamecocks. Homer inadvertently reveals that he is letting Miguel and Earle live in his garage at Faye's request. Miguel apparently knows that Homer hates the hen, and therefore forces him to look at it. Tod advises Homer to report the illegal chickens to the police. Homer continues talking about the grotesque hen, reluctant to reply directly to Tod's suggestion that he throw the men out.

Faye comes back to the table and Homer shushes Tod to keep him from mentioning their conversation. Nonetheless, Faye guesses they have been talking about Earle, Miguel, and the chickens. Tod confronts Faye for taking advantage of Homer's generosity. She feels ashamed tries to recover, first by asking Tod to dance, and when he refuses, then by praising Miguel's chickens. Homer seconds her praise and Faye invites Tod to a cockfight in Homer's garage the next night. Faye feels even more ashamed when Homer shrinks from her as though expecting to be hit a moment later. She acts nicely towards Homer for the rest of the evening.

Chapter 21

Tod and Claude Estee, who has asked to come, arrive at Homer's for the cockfight. Miguel, Earle, and Abe Kusich are in Homer's garage, with Faye's car parked in front shining its headlights on the men. Abe reports that the official cockfights are off because the opponent—a man from San Diego—did not show up. There is a homemade oval pit on the floor of the garage for that is used for the cockfights. Claude, Tod, and Abe sit down on an old trunk. Abe is restless and shoves Tod. When Earle laughs, Abe threatens to hit him and Earle eggs him on. Although Abe is not genuinely trying to get free, Tod holds the dwarf back. Earle spits on Abe's shoe.

Claude admits that he has never seen an actual game chicken or a chicken fight. Miguel brings out his prize cock, Juju, for Claude to see. Claude offers to buy another cock from Miguel and Earle so they can fight them. Miguel selects Hermano, a large red bird, for Claude and sells him for fifteen dollars. Abe offers to handle the bird for Claude, but Miguel quietly insists that Earle will do it because he knows the bird better. Miguel prepares Juju for the fight and Earle starts to prepare Hermano. Abe is skeptical of Hermano's fighting skill, convinced that Earle and Miguel are trying to cheat.

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silver - not shoe polish

by anon_2223155894, March 03, 2015

In the resume of ch. 11 you state that Harry was trying to sell shoe polish - not true!

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