Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust

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Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust is said by many to be the best novel to be written about Hollywood. When we immediately think of Hollywood, we think of a glamorous story, in the picturesque setting of Los Angeles, full of characters with abundance of talent living the much sought after American dream. This is perhaps what sets West’s novel apart from the rest. The story is full of characters that have a vague impression of the difference in reality and fantasy in life. The characters are submerged in their lives in Hollywood, with what seems to be a false reality on how the world works. The untalented would-be actors, withering vaudeville performers and prostitutes place a certain grotesque over the novel from the beginning, and in a world of certain fantasy and chaos like this, violence is bound to come to the fore as a theme in many different forms. The protagonist of the story, Tod Hackett, is different to the rest of the characters in the novel. Tom is a talented artist, but still has a good view of reality by times, so Tom can act part as an observer in the novel. Tom however has been sucked in to the fantasy world also life has become somewhat submerged in the fantasy world. The three main characters seem to be a representative for the general population of Hollywood who are chasing the American dream, and failing. Those who have came to “Burning Los Angeles to die, and would trade their ordinary life for fast paced dream of fame and fortune. The Day of the Locust takes the elements of the traditional American concerns, like the corruption of Hollywood and of those who move abroad from their hometowns to live the dream. It reveals the destruction of society and the alienation of the characters that attempt to... ... middle of paper ... ..."The Day of the Locust"." South Atlantic Review 68.4 (2003): 17-37. Print. • Light, James. "Nathanael West and the Ravaging Locust." American Quarterly 12.1 (1960): 44-54. Print. • Light, James. "Violence, Dreams, and Dostoevsky: The Art of Nathanael West." College English 19.5 (1958): 208-213. Print. • Locklin, Gerald. "The Day of the Painter, the Death of the Cock: Nathaniel West's Hollywood Novel." Los Angeles in Fiction. A Collection of Original Essays. Ed. David Fine. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984. • Martin, Jay. Nathanael West, a collection of critical essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971. Print. • Alex Vernon. "Staging Violence in West's "The Day of the Locust" and Shepard's "True West"." South Atlantic Review 65.1 (2000): 132-151. Print. • . West, Nathanael. The day of the locust. New York: Time Inc., 1965. Print.
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