American Psycho

American Psycho

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American Psycho Paul Owen Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It’s a regular day for Bateman: he screened calls in his apartment all morning, went to the gym, got a facial, and made dinner reservations for two under the name Marcus Halberstam. Tonight, he’s having dinner with Paul Owen. Bateman arrives to the restaurant late and the place is nearly empty; Owen seems unimpressed by both of these things, and complains to Bateman, who sarcastically combats his remarks. The two order drinks. Bateman can’t help but notice that Owen seems out of it tonight – dull and tired – and the dinner carries on at a monotonous pace. Bateman soon realizes, however, that he’s just very drunk. Bateman pries Owen for details about the Fisher account, but he only gives him useless statistical information and keeps redirecting the conversation.
This is the moment when Bateman’s obsession with Paul Owen comes to a head. Throughout the novel, he’s been jealous of Owen – constantly fixating on his mysterious Fisher account. For Bateman, the account is a status symbol that Owen has and he doesn’t. He’s also grown more and more annoyed over Owen mistaking him for Halberstam. Perhaps Bateman thinks that because Owen calls him by the wrong name, he considers himself the better of the two. This doesn’t sit well with Bateman. Tonight, Bateman brings a drunk Owen to a deserted restaurant (this is one time he does not want to be seen) and tries to get more information out of him. It feels as if Bateman has planned something.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
By the time dinner is over, Owen is so drunk that Bateman makes him pay the bill, admit that he’s an asshole, and go back to his apartment with him. Back at Bateman’s apartment, Owen makes himself another drink and sits down, while Bateman goes to the bathroom to take two Valium, grab a stashed axe, and put on a plastic raincoat. Bateman directs Owen over to a folding chair he’s set on top of a large sheet of plastic. Owen keeps rambling on, too drunk to even realize what’s happening, when Bateman slams the axe into his face. There is a momentary pause before blood starts spurting out of the gash in Owen’s head; Bateman rips the axe out and continues, watching as Owen falls to the ground, dies, and continues bleeding out for quite some time.
Now that Owen is clearly drunk and Bateman knows he is in the position of power, he starts to have fun with Owen, making him pay for dinner and mock himself. The set-up of the apartment – plastic on the floor, the raincoat and axe prepped and ready – show that this particular murder was specifically and carefully premeditated by Bateman. This, the most consequential kill yet, is one of the climaxes of the novel. Bateman’s killing of Owen is gruesome but joyous; his preparation and previous attitude towards Owen show just how much Bateman has been looking forward to and working towards this moment.
Themes
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
Bateman leaves the body and heads over to Paul Owen’s apartment, where he lets himself in with a stolen key and sits down to watch some television. He decides he’ll send Owen to London, leaving a mock outgoing voicemail, packing a bag, and even booking a flight. Back at Bateman’s own apartment, the body is now in rigor mortis. Bateman stuffs Owen into a sleeping bag and takes him in a cab back over to Owen’s apartment, where he leaves the body to rot in the porcelain bathtub.
Now that Owen is dead, Bateman’s superiority is no longer threatened, and he takes a sort of victory lap by enjoying himself in his dead opponent’s home. Careful to cover his tracks for the first time, Bateman creates an elaborate set-up so that others will believe Owen is out of town and not suspect anything. In all ways, this murder is different than Bateman’s other murders, and it seems to both give him back his feeling of supremacy and, possibly, further his push off the edge of sanity.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
Later that night, in bed, Bateman is unable to sleep. Evelyn calls. She’s upset; she thought the two of them had dinner plans that night, though Bateman assures her they didn’t. She questions him about where he was this evening (“I had to rent some videotapes”) and goes on to blather about another couple she saw out at an event. Bateman tells her he’s tired and she ends the call, but not before he can tell her that the two of them should plan a getaway to the Hamptons in the summer.
At first Bateman’s conversation with Evelyn is as usual: he’s not too interested in what she has to say and makes up excuses for why he hasn’t been with her. However, we see something different when he asks her to go to the Hamptons for the summer. Clearly, the murder of Paul Owen has made Bateman feel so good that he deserves a little reward, and he’s even willing to share that victory, in a way, with Evelyn. The return of his feeling of supremacy has given him a hint of powerful generosity.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
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