Having goals and dreams is something that every person in this planet has in common. All people make dreams, although these dreams greatly vary in terms of its being time-bound, the size of the dream, and everything else. The idea remains the same though. Every person has his own dreams and this truth has existed for the past thousands of years. Being casted in one of the mainstream movies or even TV series in Hollywood can be anybody’s dream, although it is not in any way a simple one, or something that anyone can easily achieve.
Hope can be a very dangerous thing. Given someone too much hope and he can become very conceited or overconfident. Give someone a little bit of it and he can become quite ambitious. This principle can actually be applied to someone who dreams of going into Hollywood. Hope is everything that a person needs to achieve his dreams. It is like a symbol that shows a person how he can proceed in achieving his goal. Hope is the only virtue stronger than fear. Metaphorically, it can actually move mountains. Basically, West uses this idea about hope in explaining to the readers what it can take to be in Hollywood; he used the persona of Faye Greener as the provider of hope.
The Day of the Locus is a book published by Nathanael West in 1939, primarily about the events that happened during the Great Depression, set in Hollywood California. It described how a diverse and desperate group of individuals who lived on the outside boundaries of the mainstream Hollywood industry lived and fought to survive. There are two main characters in the story: Tod Hackett and Faye Greener. Tod Hackett was a skilled painter and narrator who worked in one of the many studios in Hollywood to make money and ideally, to make it big. Faye Greener on the other hand was Tod’s friend and object of defection. She always wanted to be in Hollywood pictures and also make it big in the Hollywood film-making industry. Unfortunately, they have realized that Hollywood was never the place they expected it to be and that it takes more than just talent and interest to thrive and succeed in that type of environment. The thing is that Faye Greener appeared to be so willing to play it dirty, after she found out the ugly things about Hollywood. The Day of the Locust is mainly about Hollywood; how corrupt it is—or at least how it used to be; and how the main characters’ American dream turned into a nightmare. In the end, the reader would be able to think that the Hollywood that Nathanael West is not the place full of glamour that houses the movie and TV stars which most people know or at least perceive it to be, but rather a world full of little dreamy, and ambitious people, who are willing to twist their principles for their own desires.
In his novel, The Day of the Locus, West used the main character, Faye Greener, to convey Hollywood. In other words Faye Greener is Hollywood. The main character was a pretty and a very attractive girl. She does seem to be a very gorgeous girl but she is in fact, empty when you look her from the inside. She dreams of becoming a popular film star, and she does have a lot of hope of becoming one because she seems so confident about her looks and her abilities. A lot of men find her attractive. These men usually give her what she wants. What these men do not know is that Faye is a player and she plays on these men by showing them gestures that convey hope. This follows the idea that Faye can be perceived as Hollywood. A lot of people want to a part of this very large and sophisticated society, despite being shown signs that the society they are trying very hard to be a part of is one that is filled with people with corrupt and savaged personalities.. Faye is Hollywood and he uses gestures that suggest sexual and physical attraction like sliding her tongue over her lips whenever she is with a man that she knows is attracted to her beauty. A quotation from The Day of the Locus: “She repaid him for his compliment by smiling in a peculiar, secret way and running her tongue over her lips and it was one of her most characteristic gestures and very effective” . She always uses this characteristic gesture to get what she wants. Whenever a man that likes Faye see her do this gesture, they see it as a sign of hope and so as a result, these men continue hitting on her and giving her what she wants, expecting that Faye will hit them back. What these men do not know is that Faye is just using her many gestures to get what she wants from them. It is a perfect depiction of how vanity and harboring a malignant sense of perversity could damage a person’s future.
Nathanael West perceives Hollywood as a place where money comes first before anything else. His future partner, Todd Hackett, a young painter and artist by nature, but currently works as a background painter and costume designer for one of the mainstream shows in Hollywood, has relatively nothing to offer her, especially when we start to compare her to the men that chase Faye for her beauty, charm, and glamour. It can be seen in many parts of the book how Faye persecutes Todd because of his inability to offer her the thing that she is really after—money and fame. A quote from the book: “Todd had nothing to offer her, neither money, nor looks, and she could only love a handsome man and would only let a wealthy man love her” . Bringing Hollywood into the scene again, Faye and the sophisticated society that Hollywood is indeed possess a certain level of resemblance. West basically wanted to point out that Hollywood, as how it is being described in his Faye to Hollywood analogy, is a place where only the rich, talented, and already-famous, get to experience more scenes under the limelight. It is like being rich, talented, and famous, are all absolute requirements to be recognized in this society. Hollywood and Faye both require these qualities from a man. Faye always wanted to be friends with someone who is not only good-looking, but also famous, talented, and filthy rich all at the same time. Being good looking or rich alone would not catch her high-class taste at all. Nathanael also wanted to imply that Hollywood is not a place for the poor talented dreamers. Although everyone is indeed guaranteed the privilege to dream, not everyone’s is granted the opportunity to make those dreams come true and in this case, any person who does not possess the wealth, the popularity, and rare physical qualities, and the talent that Hollywood altogether requires, would not even be given a shot to prove his worth.
Faye, as compared to Hollywood is a very dangerous place, yet very attractive. It is one of the ironies that can be linked to the qualities of a notorious yet very effective predator. A vampire, for example, has to be very attractive for it to attract its prey. Faye, in the same manner, is very attractive. In fact according to the book “She was supposed to look inviting, but the invitation was not to pleasure” . She can definitely be any man’s dream just like how Hollywood can be. What these dreamers do not know is that they are exposing themselves to danger the moment they decide to get closer to their dreams—to be friends with Faye or in this case, be a part of the sophisticated Society that Hollywood is. The thing is, these dreamers appear to be so blind about it. They do not have even a single hint that they are walking into a trap, a trap that would most likely succumb them into eternal frustration after discovering that their talents, or any of the four absolute qualities to prosper in Hollywood, were just used in vain. All that they know is that Hollywood is a haven that sacrificing something for their dreams related to Hollywood would be worth it. All along they would think that being a part of Hollywood is certainly doable, because of the false hopes that Hollywood agents give, or in this case, men think that getting Faye to do what they want is doable because Faye gives them the hope that they needs to proceed with plans for her.
Nathanael West used a very effective method to describe to the audience the dark characteristics of Hollywood that really defines it as a society that at the same time, most people who try to enter it are not even aware of. He described it, using his Faye Greener as an attractive, mouth-watering woman metaphor, as a place sick with vanity and wealth, and one of the most perfect breeding grounds of malignant sense of perversity. The personification of the usually unseen and dark qualities of Hollywood, which was achieved by West’s use of Faye Greener, the main character in his novel, was perfect. The similarity between his belief of what Hollywood, and the American culture is really all about was perfectly defined the moment he chose to place Faye Greener into the equation. Faye’s character on the other hand faultlessly exposed the dangerous and almost fraudulent society that Hollywood is. Hollywood is a perfectly desirable place to be in yet it possesses a lot of bad, dangerous, and what makes it worse, almost invisible qualities that when discovered makes the idea of sacrificing a lot of time, effort, resources, and talent for the sake of further popularizing the grotesque culture that it (Hollywood) tries to promote unwise and at some point, even ridiculous. It is a place where money is all that matters; a place where business is always booming, and ultimately a place made only for the rich, good-looking, famous, and influential individuals. It is, as Nathanael West effortlessly tried to point out in his novel through the use of the Faye Greener-Hollywood personification, not a place where poor but talented individuals could further enrich their skills and talents and make their way to stardom, but rather a place where only the already rich and famous, even if they are not that talented thrive. In summary, dreaming of being a part of Hollywood if you are not rich, even if you are talented will never be a good idea.
West, Nathaniel. "The Day of the Locust." Random House (1939): 238.