Pisk, George M. "The Graveyard of Dreams: A Study of Nathanael West's Last Novel, ‘The Day of the Locust.’" The South Central Bulletin. Vol. 27, No. 4 (Winter 1967), pp 64-72. JSTOR. 9 Apr. 2008 < http://www.jstor.org/stable/3188923>.
This article begins with biographical details of West’s life that focus on him as a struggling writer. However, 20th Century Fox buys the rights to one of his novels and West follows it to Hollywood only to see it corrupted and adulterated. He remained in Hollywood, enjoyed financial security as a screenwriter, and was able to focus on writing novels for three months out of the year. Hollywood not only provided a backdrop for his writings, but also a wealth of subject matter. During his time in Hollywood, West wrote The Day of the Locust. The rest of the article delves into analysis of the characters and other devices used in the book. It discusses how four major characters represent four major categories of the shattered dreams of Hollywood, and how the minor character Claude Estee represents the emptiness inherent even in the realization of dreams. The article discusses the use of music to create a corrupt and sinister atmosphere, and finally delves into the artifice of the novel as represented by Faye and the Hollywood system.
This article provides key insights into how West came to write his novel. As a struggling East Coast writer, he was drawn to Hollywood with promises of financial security and success. It becomes apparent that Tod Hackett is very much a reflection of West in the novel. Both are Ivy-educated artists drawn to Hollywood and seek to capture the truth of the area with their respective art. The discussion of animal imagery is important as it lends important insight into the film adaptation of West’s novel. The scene in the film with Homer Simpson and the lizard make more sense in context of animal imagery from the book. As the article highlights the importance and magnificence of West’s compassion in the novel, it reveals an aspect of the film that is missing as compassion is highly lost for any of the characters save for Homer.