American Psycho Critical Essay

American Psycho Critical Essay-33
In this final scene on page 398 Bateman and his friends are discussing their presumably new obsession, the Shepard account, while at their favorite establishment.There are fourteen lines of dialogue with no reference to which character is speaking when. Because the reader does not know when Bateman is speaking, the reader cannot not identify who Bateman is in the scene and thus the reader is unaware of his feelings on the topic of discussion.

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Bateman indulges in a lifestyle of designer suits and upscale restaurants. The main argument presented in is whether Bateman’s violent acts are a figment of his imagination, or if they are a product of his extreme privilege. In a 1991 article in The New York Times, Ellis explains: I was writing about a society in which the surface became the only thing.

Everything was surface—food, clothes—that is what defined people.

Each chapter title is simple: the name of an event, an object, a person or a task. An example of this are the chapters titled “Harry’s” and “Girls.” This adds to the overall use of lists in the novel (Bateman frequently lists the objects around him and the clothes the people around him are wearing).

Following with the theme of repetition and lists, many titles echo their chapters’ first sentences.

This use of narrative shift not only shows the complexity of Bateman’s identity, but also the idea of Bateman as the ultimate unreliable narrator.

The reader now knows that he cannot trust any of Bateman’s accounts.Later in the novel Ellis changes the narrative from first to third in a chapter long sentence.…Racing blindly down Greenwich I lose control entirely, the cab swerves into a Korean deli, next to a karaoke restaurant called Lotus Blossom I’ve been to with the Japanese clients, the cab rolling over fruit stands, smashing through a wall of glass, the body of a cashier thudding across the hood, Patrick tries to put the cab in reverse but nothing happens, he staggers out of the cab, leaning against it…(Ellis 349)Though this sentence encompasses the entire chapter, it is broken up by ellipses.It can be assumed that Ellis chose to do this to make the process of reading this chapter easier and to display an absence of mind for the narrator.The chapter is titled, “A Glimpse of a Thursday Afternoon.” The first sentence of the chapter begins, “and it’s mid-afternoon and I find myself standing at a phone booth on a corner somewhere downtown, I don’t know where, but I’m sweaty and a pounding migraine thumps dully in my head and I’m experiencing a major-league anxiety attack…” The sentence starts with a completely lowercase word.This forces the title of the chapter to be included in its first sentence.At a glance, this could be seen as a typographical mistake, but because of Ellis’ extensive use of alternate grammar it is surely not one.The literal split in Bateman’s name parallels the dual nature of his personality and the two clear interpretations of the novel: Patrick Bateman as a mentally disturbed man, or Patrick Bateman as a privileged serial killer.So, I wrote a book that is all surface action: no narrative, no characters to latch onto, flat, endlessly repetitive.I used comedy to get at the absolute banality of the violence of a perverse decade. But that is how, as a writer, I took in those years.


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