The Day of the Locust Study Guide

The Day of the Locust Study Guide

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The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust is an interesting example of portraying the realistic events through the eyes of the main character - an artist, who sees them as an inspiration for his painting. The novel plays with Hollywood stereotypes, showing the full range of them: from young starlets who appear to be gold-diggers and to greedy and lusty producers.

The painting that the protagonist - a young graduate artist named Tod Hackett - wants to finish is called “The Burning of Los Angeles”. He is hired to paint sceneries and backgrounds for Hollywood movies, but aside his main job he seeks inspiration in everything and everyone he meets. The painting is mentioned so often and vividly that it becomes almost another main character of the novel, or the reflection of the current state of Tod.

Tod falls in love sincerely, he is full of ambitions and believes in happy ending for himself - but under the bright facade Hollywood is cold and heartless. He starts to realize it when meeting the old hotel owner Homer Simpson and befriending him, but the climactic moment of revelation and shattering of all his delusive dreams happens in the end of the book - when Tod sees the real Hollywood, crowds of despaired people who “came to California to die”. The time after the Great Depression contrasts with the shiny and sugary life of Hollywood so much that it becomes an epiphany for Tod, the moment of clarity that allows him to immediately understand how his picture shall look like - he sees the “burning” with his own eyes. We never know, though, what happens to him after that: the ending is too ambiguous to understand if Tod really becomes an enlightened artist or he just survives a sanity snap, losing any hope, dreams and desires, except the ones accepted in this society and becoming just a mindless part of the machine of Hollywood.

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The novel, "The Day of The Locust," is considered by many to be ugly and violent in nature but it is a filmic novel because it is based in Hollywood with a protagonist who uses their imagination and artistic views to move forward with the story. Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust tells the...

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Day of the Locust

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Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust tells the story of people who have come to California in search of the American Dream. They travel west hoping to escape less than perfect lives and pursue success in Hollywood. The characters in this novel dream of a life of luxury, having lots of money, and...

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