American Psycho Essay, Research Paper
Entrails torn from the body with bare hands, eyes gouged out with razor blades, battery cables, rats borrowing inside the human body, power drills to the face, cannibalism, credit cards, business cards, Dorsia, Testoni, Armani, Wall Street; all of these things are Patrick Bateman s world. The only difference between Bateman and anybody else is what is repulsive to Bateman and what is repulsive to the rest of the world. Bateman has great interest in the upper class life, fashions, and social existence, but at the same time he is, at times, sickened by the constant struggle to be one up on everybody else. On the other hand Bateman s nightlife reveals a side of him never seen during the day. Bateman is relaxed, impulsive, and confident while torturing and killing. He doesn t have to worry about being better than anyone else. The only competition he has is his last victim. Torture and murder are the two true loves of Patrick Bateman.
From the beginning of the novel the reader is introduced to an almost mind numbing amount of details of Bateman s social life, wardrobe, cosmetic products, etc. The reader is almost frustrated with the overabundance of details. Why is it important to know what kind of hair gel Bateman used on Tuesday before an important meeting with his friends? What s the point of numerous chapters of extreme analysis of Genesis, Whitney Houston, etc? Bateman s obsessions are extremely complex but at the same time he doesn t limit himself to one area of obsession. Bateman s knowledge of fashion is truly amazing, but what about his knowledge of weapons. His knowledge of pain is a true genius in itself, but how many people can spit out specifications on the frequency responses of various brands of stereo receivers and speaker systems like Bateman?
The point can be made that Bateman is simply trying to be better than everyone else, have more stuff, look better, and out do his rival workers, but that s too simple. Bateman is obsessed with perfection. But why? Boredom, lack of a personality, and pursuit of happiness all come to mind. It s hard to tell what exactly would make a person with so much so unhappy. Boredom does play a role in Bateman s demented world, and so does lack of personality. It can certainly be said that Bateman is simply looking for happiness. I think Bateman does somewhat satisfy his boredom, and does make himself feel happy at times, but he is repulsed by the constant battle to find something new or better. This is the novels great contrast for the reader. Bateman is in a way sickened by the everyday all-American life he leads, while the reader is sickened by the flip side of Patrick Bateman.
From the beginning of the novel Bateman seems content with his life style. He seems perfectly happy with the daily lunch tickets at Nell s, the Yale Club, etc. He seems fascinated and absorbed with the details of peoples wardrobes, especially his own. But if you sift through all the talk of food, cocktails, and hardbodies, the reader will find a subtle boredom or frustration even early in the novel. While waiting on food at a table at Nell s, Bateman is momentarily diverted from the conversation by one of his thoughts of sex or violence that seem to escalate in frequency throughout the novel. I think about Courtney s legs, spread and wrapped around my face, and when I look over at Luis in one brief flashing moment his head looks like a talking vagina and it scares the bejesus out of me, moves me to say something while mopping the sweat off my brow. (108)
These thoughts seem to come to Bateman most frequently at these types of situations. Wealthy friends, wealthy strangers, and a wealthy environment surround him. Either consciously or subconsciously Bateman s mind diverts itself from the monotonous world that Bateman grows to loathe, to a world that Bateman loves. Although the thoughts occur the most often in restaurants, I can t say with certainty that food has anything to do with the ideas floating around in Batemans head. Bateman is somewhat fascinated by food and does at times seem to pick a certain type of food or drink to fit a certain mood. The most common example of this is Bateman s drink of choice; J&B, either on the rocks or straight. Bateman orders J&B the majority of the time, but at certain times usually when he is angry, frustrated, or bored with the company he is currently sharing he orders a beer or maybe some other alternate mixed drink. At times Bateman seems uneasy or confused about something and he seems to have trouble ordering. Times like these show a somewhat insecure side of Bateman. He even gets frustrated over a change in shampoo, which makes him so insecure he almost cries. This isn t just a pursuit of perfection on Bateman s part, it s also Bateman s constant struggle for acceptance.
In contrast to the everyday trials and tribulations of Patrick Bateman, nights seem to be a mixture of chaos and order. Bateman s preferred method of murder is to take home a prostitute or two and torture them. But just as in the case with the J&B s, Bateman seems to get a little frustrated or spontaneous at times. In the park Bateman has a sudden impulse to release his anger. He nods his small head, up, then down, slowly, but before he can answer, my sudden lack of care crests in a massive wave of fury and I pull the knife out of my pocket and I stab him, quickly, in the neck. (298)
Although Bateman is momentarily shocked by his actions after killing the kid in the park, he recovers quickly and even makes a great attempt at looking innocent. Bateman feels no remorse whatsoever in these situations though. He basically feels nothing. On the other hand he is constantly angered, frustrated, or bored while doing minor things like conversing, shopping, or talking on the phone. It seems he is turned off by these simple everyday acts. Throughout the novel the only thing that increasingly holds his attention is the killing and torture he looks forward to at night. Even sex seems to take a back seat to his number one fascination. Often times a night of wild sex with two women will start to bore Bateman and he ll start the torture, which seems to be his intent all along. The sex seems like more of a warm-up for the rest of the evenings blood and guts.
There are many more instances of this type of spontaneous killing. Even while torturing victims Bateman seems to change his plans sporadically. At first he seems to know where he is going with the torture, but after a while boredom, frustration, or lack of patience causes him to divert to something different. Sometimes the urge for drilling somebody in the face, or pouring acid on somebody s stomach is overcome by the urge to tear his victim s stomach open with his bear hands, or perhaps cook up a nice meal of decapitated head. The whole time during all the tortures Bateman shows no signs of wanting to stop. He almost seems to move forward in a mechanical fashion. Chopping, shooting, slashing, and beating his way to new heights of perfection in torture and pain.
Toward the end of the novel Bateman shows increasing signs of his frustration of not being caught, boredom, and his increasing anger toward the upper class life he is stuck in. At one point he even begins trying to communicate his repulsion with his life when he says, Kill. . . All. . . Yuppies .
Of course anybody that knows Bateman wouldn t take this statement literally, and in fact the statement is simply ignored like many other attempts Bateman makes at exposing his anger or his dark side.
To summarize Bateman s sense of the repulsive in one word, phrase, or idea would be impossible. However, I do think the repulsion with his surroundings comes from his relatively easy life. He has all the money he needs, and works for even more. He was born into a wealthy family and was given everything except happiness. Bateman s constant struggle with himself and those around him stems from his repulsion of everything he is and has become. His nighttime endeavors with prostitutes and the homeless are more than releases for his frustrations, they are a way for Bateman to express himself in a different way than everyone around him does. Bateman doesn t have to flash a shiny business card at a whore to make her go to his house. The homeless people don t care if Bateman owns a tanning bed or not. The only thing that matters to Bateman is whether or not these people will scream, bleed, and die the way he wants them to.