Destruction In Nathanael West's The Day Of The Locust

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Destruction comes in many different forms. In Nathanael West’s novel The Day of the Locust, destruction is a common theme that occurs throughout the course of the novel. The main character, Tod Hackett, paints a picture depicting the destruction of Hollywood and the world of film. Tod’s vulgar fantasies about Faye demonstrate the destruction of one’s mind, body and spirit. The bloody cockfight demonstrates the destruction of humanity. The decay of morals and values eventually leads to the destruction of society and the world of Hollywood. Tod Hackett, a young aspiring artist, paints a picture of Hollywood under fire, entitled The Burning of Los Angeles. The painting is described to be Los Angeles in the center of a massacre, representing …show more content…
Tod loses all sense of morals when he begins to have vulgar fantasies of raping the young Faye Greener. Tod feels a strange desire for Faye because she is a very self-contained woman. He has thoughts of pushing her into a bed of mud and raping her. Tod’s attraction to Faye is strong despite her intense phoniness. Her artificiality is so obvious, yet it seems quite natural to Tod. However, Faye never responds to his sexual advances in the way he expects. Although Faye works as a prostitute, she is unwilling to have unpaid sexual intercourse with a man she does not love, which she uses as a response to Tod’s constant suggestions of having sex. Her refusals are what rile Tod up and turn his desires more ravenous: “If only he had the courage to throw himself on her. Nothing less violent than rape would do. The sensation he felt was like that he got when holding an egg in his hand. Not that she was fragile or even seemed fragile. It wasn’t that. It was her completeness, her egglike self-sufficiency, that made him want to crush her.” (91-92).
Tod sees that Faye is a strong woman, but still desires to dominate her and destroy her body and mind to satisfy his own wants. Tod is destructive in ways harsh enough to light a city on fire or destroy a young woman’s innocence: “Like a locust, Tod is intent on destroying and plundering everything he sees, including Faye.” (Sanderson). Alluding to the Biblical plague of locusts,
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The men in the novel force chickens to fight to the death, driving them to brutally attack each other until one is murdered. The cockfight mirrors other aspects of Hollywood, when it is something to be watched but does not fully satisfy a man. Although the birds are destroying themselves, the men do not seem to care because they are more concerned about money. They are not worried in the slightest about injuries: “When the dwarf gathered the red up, its neck had begun to droop and it was a mass of blood and matted feathers. The little man moaned over the bird, then set to work.” (158-159). The men become so caught up in worrying about winning a bet that the animals dying in front of their eyes do not seem to faze them. The humanity, or the ability to show compassion, is destroyed because of the greed Hollywood poisons the world with. The compassion is destroyed and cannot be saved: “In the Day of the Locust West utilizes the symbolic imagery of the New Testament within the context of the Old Testament theology to reveal a corrupt world coming to a violent end, with no hope of salvation: a world with antichrists but no Christ.” (Young). The loss of human morals and values that lead to illegal animal fights demonstrates the destruction of the most human quality a person possesses. With the loss of compassion towards the animals, the men are unaware of the state of mind

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