American Psycho

American Psycho

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American Psycho Dinner with Secretary Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bateman is sitting in his office doing a crossword puzzle. He’s had a fine day: a two-hour workout, a little bit of work, and Evelyn is away in Boston for the weekend. Just outside his door, Jean is sitting working through a large stack of papers he’s asked her to take care of. She appears in the doorway, asking if he needs any help with the puzzle and coming around to the back of his desk to be next to him. Bateman asks Jean if she’d like to join him for dinner – that is, if she doesn’t have any plans. She doesn’t and would be delighted. When asked to select a restaurant, Jean picks Dorsia. Playing it cool, Bateman picks up the phone. The maître d’ on the other end of the line tells him that it’s completely booked, but Bateman carries on the conversation as if everything will be just fine. When he hangs up, Jean points out that he forgot to give his name for the reservation.
Bateman is in a fine mood, pleased by Evelyn being out of town and relaxed after having murdered Bethany; killing her seems to have been a vital opportunity for him to let off some steam. As usual, Jean is hardworking and happy to dote on Bateman, though today she is a bit bolder than usual, insisting that she help Bateman with his crossword puzzle and even coming physically close to him on his side of the desk. Whatever she’s trying to do, it works, and Bateman invites her to dinner. Bateman, not wanting to seem incapable of getting into Dorsia in front of someone as lowly as Jean, fakes his way through the phone call.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
When they arrive at Dorsia, Bateman peers onto the maître d’s list, noticing that the only name left not crossed off is Schrawtz, a reservation for two. He tells Jean to go to the bathroom; she argues that she doesn’t have to, but eventually complies. When the maître d’ arrives, Bateman is acting very strange, but manages to tell him he has a reservation for two for Schrawtz. They are led over to “their table” and Bateman is so nervous he can barely read the menu. Their drink orders are being taken when Bateman notices the maître d’ looking at them from across the restaurant. He’s standing with a couple – a very Jewish-looking couple. They come over to the table to confront Bateman and Jean, and after unsuccessfully attempting to play dumb, Bateman grabs Jean and they rush out of the restaurant.
Still trying to maintain his feelings of superiority over Jean, Bateman makes a plan to steal another couple’s reservation. In this rather comic scene, Bateman risks an enormous embarrassment (at Dorsia, no less) just to maintain his feelings of superior status in front of Jean, someone whose opinion he could usually care less about. Perhaps something is changed in Bateman: could he be feeling affection for Jean, and thus wanting to impress her, or trying to maintain his feelings of status as a way to subconsciously resist the affection he’s feeling?
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
The pair attempt another restaurant, Arcadia, and are able to be seated. They have a meal that Bateman considers mediocre, but Jean seems to enjoy just fine. She asks him about himself, noting that he seems strange tonight. She tells him about her dreams to travel some day. Bateman realizes that Jean will probably take anything he tells her as true, and so starts spouting misinformation about the history of Arcadia. After dinner, they find themselves standing outside Jean’s building. She invites Bateman up for a drink, but he tells her he has to get home to watch Letterman. She tells him he can watch it at her place, but he tells her he prefers to watch it at home “without cable.”
Bateman’s embarrassment over the incident at Dorsia is clear from the way he speaks out about the meal. He’s attempting to regain a feeling of dominance by putting down the fine food that’s in front of him. Jean, however, doesn’t find the situation embarrassing, and seems to actually enjoy her food—unlike any of the other characters we’ve seen. When Bateman realizes the extent to which he can mess with Jean, he regains his composure and dominance a bit. By the end of the night, Jean’s affection for Bateman is clear, as she invites him up to her apartment.
Themes
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
Jean accepts this excuse, and the two shake hands before embracing. For a brief moment, Bateman feels Jean’s warmth and affection engulfing him, but then he pulls away. She reminds him of a meeting he has tomorrow, and the two say goodnight. In his cab home, Bateman passes a bum on the street. As he stares at him, he has a brief fantasy, not about killing, but about buying balloons with Jean and running through Central Park.
Previously, Bateman may have tried to have sex with Jean, or maybe even killed her, but now he’s acting differently and avoiding her. She’s brought out a feeling in him that he’s highly unused to, as is made clear by one of the book’s more tragic moments: his vision of the two of them running through the park with balloons.
Themes
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
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