The Day of the Locust

Summary

Chapters 15–17

Summary Chapters 15–17

The song that plays at Harry's funeral provides an ironic contrast to the people who attend the service. Tod's cultured and intellectual status is emphasized by the fact that he recognizes the song and knows its progression even before it is played. "Come Redeemer, Our Saviour" is about the search for and continued belief in a God who has not been seen for "seventeen hundred years." At one point, the song becomes slightly threatening, as though the masses of Christian believers have become impatient. At this point the attendees of the funeral respond slightly, in a primal sort of way. Papa Gingo, the Eskimo, "grunt[s] with pleasure." The music recovers itself and ends "free and triumphant," as if the Christians are prepared to wait longer for the prophesied second coming. Tod is, in a sense, a prophet figure himself—a prophet of the uprising of the embittered mass of non-actors in Hollywood. The plot line of the Bach song stands in contrast to Tod's prediction of the Los Angeles apocalypse, in which impatience and threat takes over completely, leaving no hope for recovery or renewal.

The Christian hymn, with its theme of searching for a new leader, also casts irony on the starers sitting in the back, who themselves are searchers, but are searching for movie stars and other spectacles rather than any spirituality. Additionally, Mrs. Johnson, who halts the song, presides as the leader of the funeral in a decidedly unspiritual fashion. She bullies people in the pews into looking at Harry in his coffin, forcing them into a performer-audience relation rather than allowing for a private, personal experience of mourning.