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ENGL 324 (22)

Crime Fiction 9

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McGill University
English (Arts)
ENGL 324
Thomas Heise

Feb 1 - exam: 30-40 minutes - start highsmith - immediate post-war period of demobilization - one of the socio-historical contexts of this book is the place of women in public life - housewives began working during the war, but then once the men came home, they were removed from their jobs. - social retrenchment, political retrenchment - women are forced back into their roles of sunny, cheerful, domestic housewives - this centrifugal dispersion of women is also represented in this novel - Woody Haut, Pulp Culture - you're not trying to figure out who did it, you're trying to figure out when it will happen again and who will it be? different questions - 1947-1952: 6.6 million americans were investigated for their ties for the communist party - their fear was that the enemy was inside the country already, and that it could be anyone - you can't just look at someone and know if they're a communist: they're normal people, just like you and I - the enemy could be your neighbour (Dix Steele looked like everybody else) - for Dix, the enemy was inside him, and was this other consciousness that just came out - sprawling landscape, filled in a way that Personville wasn't - so many different places: canyons, fog, beaches - Los Angeles is too big, too sprawling. you can't control every street all night: it's unmanageable - this is a common trope in modern day LA crime shows - he sees this woman and she's beautiful. then she goes into her private home (which represents togetherness and contrasts the loneliness of our male character) - before he took over Mel's place, he lived in a second rate hotel, which was very different than the homes that the other characters have - then these two places are contrasted to the public spaces in the novel - he killed Brucie, which is an understated kind of homoeroticism - he has a very phallic name, for one - he has an affection for homosocial environments (the army, boys schools) - this is dripping with homoeroticism, but at the same time denying it and scorning it - men in the army who spend all their time together, and who interact only with each other and who fight alongside each other - he loves women so much that he hates them - once he has sex with them, they're no longer innocent, so he has to kill them - they're no longer clean due to his own rape of them - there are a couple of moments in the novel where he starts to feel asphyxiated, which is where he's put himself in the place of his victims - he is like the woman, sort of, in that - Brucie is a very male name - he's just learned that Brub knows that she's dead, which brings all his feelings flooding back to him. only he cares that she's dead, but he's the one who killed her - Hughes has given us a male lead who kills women, but she's making us sympathize with him - he's a monster, but he's not just a monster - Bateman is a monster because he has no emotion, and when he does display emotion, it doesn't come across as real - Hughes is trying to make you identify with this man, even though he's a serial rapist and killer - all men are potential rapists according to this book - Dix could be anyone, really - when Brub rushes in, he's described as having the face of a killer. so the upstanding war veteran whose married and blah blah blah also has the potential to kill - he's someone who doesn't think right, and he has to keep up this veneer of typicality - he's a much more pronounced version of someone like Holden Caulfield. he doesn't fit in - 14: you have to walk in the road if you don't have a car and don't want to take a bus: this landscape is navigable by car - Dix gets in his car to drive to his lonely place, which isn't a physical place, but a place of unutterable pain - it's a kind of deserted landscape of memory, and when he's reminded about Brucie, he goes back there - if a city has nowhere for you to walk, that basically means that you're not supposed to be socializing in public. the city is more disperse. things are in different locations - nice girl = euphemism for a woman who doesn't sleep around. not a prozzie - all the others except the first weren't either - 32: so in this city, the woman lived distant from where she worked, and both of those places were different from where she socialized - thus the city is designed for a car - they don't socialize with their neighbours, maybe they don't even know who their neighbours are. they have to join a private club in order to make friends - this
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