Essay on The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

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The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

In The Day of the Locust, Tod Hackett undergoes an internal development relative to his migration. Tod, an architect living in Connecticut, moves out to Hollywood to build scenery for movies. Yet, once he moves, Tod is transformed into a lethargic, non-artist who can no longer create his own drawings on paper. His surroundings drive these changes, as all characters in the novel are depicted in a similar fashion. Tod becomes one of the grotesque as well, laughing at the disturbing rather than the humorous. These new features signal Tod’s incapacity to return to his old self, as he constantly suffers from his migration. This comes full circle at the end of the novel when Tod is led away from the …show more content…

Tod blames this on inertia, as it is becoming easier and more natural for him to do the same things every day in LA. Only when an external force motivates him, like Abe Kusich’s plans for moving do, does Tod actually move anywhere. By the end of the novel, Tod wonders “if he himself [does not] suffer from the ingrained, morbid apathy he [likes] to draw in others” (141). Here, Tod coalesces with the other apathetic Californians; he becomes one of them. These moments culminate in the police car scene when first, the policemen carry him by force to the theatre driveway, and then carry him off in their car. Tod is carried and lifted in this instance; he performs none of the actions but instead, is the receiver of them. Whereas in Connecticut, he took action in his life and studies, in Los Angeles, he can do nothing but that which is done to him.

Tod’s laughter after hearing the siren corresponds to the grotesque laughter that signals his ultimate failure to recover. When first in LA, Tod views the houses around him as comical: architecture lacking both beauty and romance. Yet, he finds it hard to laugh at these “truly monstrous” buildings, instead exuding a sigh (61). The artist soon meets Abe Kusich, however, who first laughs “at his own joke, using a high-pitched cackle more dwarflike than anything that [comes] from him” (63). Abe represents the average Californian that Tod will

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