Summary Of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays

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“Play It as It Lays” by Joan Didion examines how a facade greatly influences one’s success in Hollywood during the 1970s. The protagonist of the story, Maria Wyeth, is an upcoming model/actress from Silver Wells, Nevada who tries her luck in the entertainment business due to pressure from her parents by moving to New York, and then Los Angeles where she meets many well established individuals within this “artificial society” such as BZ, a homosexual film producer and Carter, a film director as well as the protagonist’s ex-husband. Throughout the novel, Maria begins to question the behaviours and attitudes of the people around her. For instance, when Carter begins to tell his friends at a dinner party that he eats “breakfast out” a lot, she …show more content…
When BZ enters Maria’s bedroom with Seconal, his alienation is apparent. BZ, unable to keep up the façade that he maintains for such a long period of time, does not want to “play anymore” and “swallow[s]” the medication without a second thought (212-213). His inability to keep up this false impression leads him to the most significant alienation of the novel from Hollywood: death. On Maria’s side, though BZ initially assumes that she wants to end the game as well, she thinks otherwise. By continuing the game in a mental asylum, she aspires to live alone with Kate and do “some canning” (210). In other terms, this odd desire that Maria seeks out of life now through Hollywood’s perspective leads her to break her façade entirely. By letting go of this false impression completely, like BZ, she is alienated from “this artificial society”. Her inability to keep up the façade through the entire novel illustrates the loneliness she feels throughout the novel. A feeling in which the protagonist of the story does not know where she

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