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The Day of the Locust

Nathanael West


Chapters 2–3

page 1 of 2

Chapters 2–3

Chapters 2–3

Chapters 2–3

Chapters 2–3


Chapter 2

Tod lives on the third floor of the Bernardino Arms. On his way up to his room, he pauses on the second floor for a moment, hoping to see Faye Greener, who lives on that floor. When Tod opens his own door, he finds a business card belonging to Honest Abe Kusich with horse racing tips on the back.

Abe, Faye, and Faye's father Harry are featured in a set of lithographs called "The Dancers" that Tod is currently working on. The figures in the lithographs appear differently in each plate, but the audience watching them—the same "audience" of people standing around in the streets that Tod notices in Chapter 1—remains the same.

Tod first met Abe, who is a dwarf, upon first moving to Hollywood, a time when he was living on Ivar Street in the Chateau Mirabella. Tod found Abe lying on the floor in a bundle of women's clothing outside a room on Tod's floor. Abe was fighting with a woman, who opened the door only to toss Abe's clothing into the hall. Tod let Abe dress in his apartment. Abe badmouthed the woman down the hall and then tried to pick a fight with Tod himself. Abe's mood changed swiftly and he soon gave Tod a tip about a racehorse named "Tragopan." Then Abe became angry again, calling Tod "college man" when Tod guessed correctly that the owner of the horse was Greek. Later, Tod learned that Abe's friends treat his belligerence as a joke.

Tod ran into Abe again a few days later, at a stationary store, and mentioned to Abe that he was looking for an apartment. Abe took charge of Tod's housing search, which is how Tod has ended up here at the San Bernardino Arms. Tod had not liked the look of the unclean rooms, but rented one anyway when he saw Faye in the building.

Chapter 3

Tod, who had fallen asleep, wakes to find that it is eight o'clock in the evening. He bathes and gets dressed. As he fixes his tie in the mirror, his eyes rest on a signed photograph of Faye Greener from a film in which she had been an extra. Faye has kept her relationship with Tod impersonal because, she has told him, he is neither rich nor attractive. In the photograph, Faye is lying down, wearing a harem costume. Tod remembers driving to Glendale to see her in the film. She had only one line and hadn't spoken it well.

Faye is tall, with straight shoulders and legs and a wide face with platinum hair held back by a blue ribbon. Tod meditates on her photograph, thinking she looks less drunk with pleasure than as though she is inviting one to a "struggle, hard and sharp." Tod imagines that accepting Faye's invitation would be like jumping off a tall building. He then self-consciously laughs at these dramatic words he has used in an attempt to describe Faye to himself. He reasons that she will not have him no matter how much he wants her. Tod finishes getting ready and leaves his room for a party at Claude Estee's.

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 2–3 Quiz

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Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 2–3 Quiz



Who lives on the floor below Tod at the Bernardino Arms?
Homer Simpson
Claude Estee
Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 2–3 Quiz

Chapters 2–3 QUIZ

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 2–3 Quiz

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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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