The Day of the Locust Essay

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Early in the novel, West makes a distinction between the "masqueraders," the costumed role-players characteristic of Hollywood (and, more generally, of the manipulative, shifting, and anomic southern California culture and society), and those retirees and other refugees, mostly from mid-America, who have "come to California to die," They, representing the broader American society, provide the audience of the masqueraders. Several things, as we will see, go novelistically wrong with this division, but let us first consider the Greeners, Harry and Faye, as epitomizing the masqueraders.

Harry is a clown. Clowning often serves as a combination of the self-protective and the self-punitive masquerade (as we often recognize in the adolescent "class clown"). But clowning can become compulsive, the masquerade turning into an entrapping mechanism. West dramatized some of this with Beagle Darwin and Willie Shrike in his first two books and again in Locust with his most carefully detailed...

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This section contains 2,501 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Day of the Locust Study Guide
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The Day of the Locust from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.