5 thoughts on “American Psycho (second half)–Group 1

  1. Paige Ballard

    Patrick Bateman appears to become more and more removed from his friends and society throughout the course of the book through the evolution of his depth of thought. In the beginning chapters he is shown as participating in the verbal jests, material obsessions and societal orchestrations of dinner reservations and party appearances just as much as his fellow ‘yuppies’. His constant commentary on his daily morning skincare routine, review of other’s clothing and never-ending list of potential Christmas gifts put his material view of the world in our faces. Bateman seems one-dimensional and only concerned with the exterior of others and himself. However, throughout the book, Ellis includes more and more internal thought monologues that reveal Bateman’s introspective side, however surface-level and materialistic his thoughts may be. Such quotes as, “… there is an idea of Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory… Myself is fabricated, and abberattion,” demonstrate a certain self-awareness. (377) While Bateman has a thin, horizontally spreading conception of the world around him, his character gains much more depth throughout the book as his awareness of the world around him deepen.

  2. Delaney Collins

    I think he becomes quite overwhelmed with capitalism over the course of the novel. At first, he seems to be a successful capitalist enjoying the perks of game. His murders are less pre-meditated and sadistic, and he lingers in the details. Towards the end, he merely describes them emotionlessly and doesn’t understand the implication of murder. The scene where he hallucinates a cheerio being interviewed really highlighted his dissent into madness and how he sees people as products. Moreover, it made me reflect on the unreliable narrator’s past description: what was real versus what was fantasy. He seems to have no control over his internal goings and they begin to project and become his outside world as well. Towards the end of the book it is clear that we are in Bateman’s New York: one emblematic on the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.

  3. Alfred Cramer

    First, I want to say that I found this book terribly gruesome and there were many chapters that I honestly didn’t want to keep reading, I felt that the author could have described Bateman’s insanity without describing in detail the way he raped and severely mutilated so many people. The gruesomeness aside, Bateman’s descent into madness occurred throughout the novel, starting first with racism and sexism, then his obsession with hardcore pornography, and then finally with mutilation of other people. I think that his insanity was provoked by the capitalist system he inhabited. Throughout the novel he is obsessed with the clothing products that other people wear, and is caught up in the race of having the best and most expensive. Though he pretends to love this system, it overwhelms him. “I pass through the Rock Musical section—nothing—then find myself in Horror Comedy—ditto—and suddenly I’m seized by a minor anxiety attack. There are too many fucking movies to choose from”(112). There are too many things for him to choose from and because of that, he feels like he is losing control of the situation.

  4. Margaret Burlock

    As Bateman’s hold on reality becomes less and less secure towards the end of the novel, his hold on himself or more accurately: his recognition that he has no self to hold onto and that this is infinitely sad) seems to become progressively stronger. Where at the beginning of the novel , he constantly affirms his own success, good looks, and material wealth and labels those who lack what he has as worthless and pathetic, by the end he seems more ambivalent. His murders, real or imagined, seem at first like a means of differentiating himself and asserting his own agency within an endlessly repetitive, fatalistic, and anonymous world: l “I come to the conclusion that Patricia *is* safe tonight, that I am not just going to unexpectedly pull a knife out and use it on her just for the sake of doing so…she’s lucky, even though there’s no reasoning behind the luck. It could be that she’s safe because of her wealth, her *family’s* wealth, protects her for tonight, or it could be that it’s simply *my* choice” (77). While Bateman leaves open the possibility that her safety is the result of random luck or class privilege, this passage seems to indicate that Bateman sees himself as an independent and all powerful actor; while there are other possibilities for the structuring of the universe, the emphasis lands squarely on the italicized “my” of choice (not to mention that Bateman shows again and again that he kills the ultra-rich and well-connected just as indiscriminately as the poor). By the end of the novel he seems to notice that he is anything but a consistent figure who can act autonomously in an otherwise meaningless and hateful world as shown through the nihilistic self-reflections that Professor Newbury quotes in the slideshow, as well as his moments of futile grasping at domestic normalcy through for Jean and his trip to the Hamptons, and finally through the breaks in first person narration that emerge and recede throughout the final chapters. Far from an all powerful actor, by the end of the novel he doesn’t even have control or unity within his first person-subjectivity and he worse, he recognizes it. Finally, he recognizes too that there is no escape for him: not through murder, wealth, or domestic bliss.

  5. Michael Newbury Post author

    What changes do you see in Bateman over the course of the novel and where do they become visible? In some ways, he’s a consistent figure, but, as I noted in the slides, it’s also possible by the end to see him touch on tragedy, even if he pulls back from it. What do you think?

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