American Psycho

American Psycho

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Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of American Psycho published in 1991.
April Fools Quotes

ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Misérables on its side blocking his view…

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Timothy Price
Related Symbols: The Devil and Hell, Les Misérables
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage, which opens the novel, begins with a quote from Dante’s Inferno, an epic poem detailing the author’s journey through the circles of hell. This is the first instance of devil and hell imagery which appears throughout the novel, and serves to establish the dark, painful, and sadistic tone of the novel and its narrator, as well as connecting that notion directly to the Wall Street world in which Bateman lives – this is done by depicting these words directly on the walls of a bank. The graffiti scrawl and color of the words additionally evokes the image of blood, which will be prevalent throughout the novel as Bateman’s gruesome killing spree begins – this image will even be directly referenced later when Bateman uses real blood to scrawl a message on the wall of Paul Owen’s apartment.

Notably, the words are quickly covered by a bus advertisement for the musical “Les Misérables” – another first appearance of a recurring symbol. The musical, which dominated culture in the late 1980s and is primarily focused on class warfare and the plight of the poor in pre-revolutionary France, serves as a constant reminder of the novel’s dealings with capitalism, wealth, and class. Ellis emphasizes the “haves and have nots” juxtaposition of Bateman and his friends’ lifestyle as contrasted with that of the poor and homeless whom they often mock and mistreat.

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“I’m resourceful,” Price is saying, “I’m creative, I’m young, unscrupulous, highly motivated, highly skilled. In essence what I’m saying is that society cannot afford to lose me. I’m an asset.”

Related Characters: Timothy Price (speaker), Patrick Bateman
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

In this introductory moment, Timothy Price makes incredibly clear the value he believes he brings to the world – he, and the others in his circle, are the cream of the crop, contribute to society and humanity more than any other, and should be held up as people with far greater inherent value and worth than others.

Interestingly, the qualities listed here by Price are likely not the only reasons he believes he has such value. Price, Bateman, and the rest of their friends, as will be revealed throughout the rest of the novel, believe themselves to be “assets” to society because of their wealth and fixture as the wealthy elite. Their confidence comes from what they have, what they are able to buy, and the extravagant and luxurious lifestyles they lead. In this particular quote, Price’s egocentrism, though comical, introduces the reader to an attitude maintained by almost all of the novel’s characters, especially Price and Bateman: the idea that they are better than all others around them, and those who are below them should serve and be grateful for them.

Tunnel Quotes

All of the men outside Tunnel tonight are for some reason wearing tuxedos, except for a middle-aged homeless bum who sits by a Dumpster, only a few feet away from the ropes, holding out to anyone who pays attention a Styrofoam coffee cup, begging for change, and as Price leads us around the crowd up to the ropes, motioning to one of the doormen, Van Patten waves a crisp one-dollar bill in front of the homeless bum’s face, which momentarily lights up, then Van Patten pockets it as we’re whisked into the club, handed a dozen drink tickets and two VIP Basement passes.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Timothy Price, David Van Patten
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage clearly displays the class distinctions that are at play in the novel and which were important realities in the real-life 1980s (as they are today). Historically, the 1980s were a decade of incredible economic and technological expansion in the United States. On Wall Street, real men (and women) like Bateman and his friends amassed vast sums of money and lived lavish lifestyles filled with sex and drugs. At the same time, the 1980s, especially in New York, were a moment of dire difficulties for the poor and homeless in cities. The popularity of crack cocaine and law enforcement crack-downs ravaged poor populations and left many people homeless and in great need. The rich were very much getting richer and the poor were very much getting poorer. Ellis uses this historical juxtaposition well and often in his novel, amplifying it in passages such as this one.

This is also the first instance of the “game” Bateman and his friends enjoy playing with homeless beggars: dangling a dollar in front of them, only to snatch it away and mock their disappointment. Bateman and his friends are incredibly wealthy, and they believe this makes them more valuable as human beings. Under their hyper-capitalist worldview, their high-paying jobs and excessive spending habits make them model citizens and, thus, people of great worth. The homeless, who have no money and no jobs, are entirely devoid of value to them, and thus, not worthy of any respect or human decency. In fact, they assign these people such little value that they taunt and hunt them for their own pleasurable sport.

Office Quotes

“Don’t wear that outfit again,” I say, looking her over quickly… “do not wear that outfit again. Wear a dress. A skirt or something… You’re prettier than that… And high heels,” I mention. “I like high heels.”
She shakes her head good-naturedly as she exits…

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Jean
Page Number: 66-67
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman views women as nothing more than objects. Whether it’s Jean, his secretary, Evelyn, his girlfriend, or a prostitute he hires, he believes women exist only to serve him and to aid in his pleasure, whether it be sexual or simply visual. Furthermore, because Jean works for Bateman and thus, in his mind, belongs to him, she is an extension of the persona of perfection, style, and dominance that he presents, and therefore must align her appearance with his standards.

Bateman’s objectification of women will play a large role in his descent into reckless and sadistic killing; if a woman has no value but to provide him pleasure and service, then by torturing or killing her he is doing nothing beyond that to which he is rightfully entitled. His obsession with appearances – with clothing, with company, with physique – will eventually fall by the wayside as he descends into madness, but for now he is meticulously and religiously devoted to them.

Date with Evelyn Quotes

Idly, I wonder if Evelyn would ever sleep with another woman if I brought her over to the brownstone… If they’d let me direct, tell them what to do, position them under hot halogen lamps… But what if I forced her at gunpoint? Threatened to cut them both up, maybe, if they didn’t comply?

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Evelyn Richards
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

For Bateman, women exist to serve him and aid in his pleasure, and nothing more. He, as a man, is more powerful and important. He is the one with the Wall Street job; he is the one with the large sums of money; this is what gives him value as a person. When he is with prostitutes, this is clear and obvious – these are women of a lower class that he has hired to pleasure him – however, this passage shows that this attitude even extends to women in his own social circle, even to his own girlfriend. The line of thinking Bateman has here also serves as a precursor to the conflation of sex and violence that will come later in the novel. While now he only imagines using a weapon and violence to force a woman to do what he wants sexually, he will later be unable to distinguish an act of sex from an act of violence, biting the flesh off women as he pleasures them orally and having sex with their dead and dying corpses.

This passage also highlights the complete lack of connection in Bateman and Evelyn’s relationship. Though they are dating, and seem to have been for some time, they are not affectionate to one another and do not care deeply for one another in any way. Their relationship, like all other relationships in Bateman’s life, is entirely shallow, based primarily on money and appearances. This complete lack of connection even in his most intimate relationships will go on to fuel the mental and social isolation that overcomes Bateman as he descends into madness.

Tuesday Quotes

“Why don’t you get another one?” I ask. “Why don’t you get another job?”
“I’m not…” He coughs, holding himself, shaking miserably, violently, unable to finish the sentence.
“You’re not what?” I ask softly. “Qualified for anything else?”

“Listen, do you think it’s fair to take money from people who do have jobs? Who do work?”
His face crumples and he gasps, his voice raspy, “What am I gonna do?”

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Al (speaker)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

In Bateman’s world, a person’s worth is linked explicitly to their place in a capitalist hierarchy. This means that whoever is contributing most to the global economic boom of the 1980s (making more money, spending more money on more material goods, working with the Wall Street banks that uphold and profit from business and the movement of money and capital) is the most valuable. In Bateman’s eyes, then, a homeless person is devoid of value because they have no money (and thus, no money to spend) and do not have a job. It is disgusting to him to even imagine a person with no value and who makes no contribution to the mechanism of capitalism trying to take money for free from someone who does, especially someone who does in such a great and expansive way as Bateman.

This disgust – along with the disgust Bateman feels for Al’s unclean and disheveled physical appearance (remember, looks are everything and shallowness is key) and his complete lack of consideration for the humanity of people he considers to be below him – allows him to feel no remorse, and even take pleasure in the violence and torturous things he does to the helpless Al and his dog.

Lunch Quotes

“My life is a living hell,” I mention off the cuff, while casually moving leeks around on my plate, which by the way is a porcelain triangle. “And there are many more people I, uh, want to… want to, well, I guess murder.” I say emphasizing this last word, staring straight into Armstrong’s face.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Armstrong
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

In many instances throughout the novel, Bateman will describe himself admitting his crimes or threatening horrid violence in casual conversation with his friends. Yet every time, these admissions are either ignored completely or greeted with friendly laughter. Especially early on, these moments highlight the unreliability of Bateman as a narrator, an idea that will grow exponentially as events continue. It is unclear in these moments if Bateman is truly saying these things and being ignored, or if he is merely imagining himself saying these things.

If he is indeed making these admissions and being ignored completely, the reader can see, again, just how disconnected and shallow all of the relationships in Bateman’s life truly are. Everyone in his circle is concerned only with themselves; they only pay attention to others when they are attempting to compare themselves to them. In this particular instance, Armstrong is so wrapped up in his own story that he isn’t even listening to Bateman. He’s not having a conversation with him, just talking at him. This isolation from others, which is a symptom of the capitalistic, materialistic, and shallow lives led by Bateman and his peers, will only increase as situations amplify throughout the novel.

Concert Quotes

It hits me that we have something in common, that we share a bond… the audience disappears and the music slows down… everything getting clearer, my body alive and burning, on fire, and from nowhere a flash of white and blinding light envelopes me and I hear it, can actually feel, can even make out the letters of the message hovering above Bono’s head in orange wavy letters: “I … am … the … devil … and I am … just … like … you …”

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Bono
Related Symbols: The Devil and Hell
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of Bateman’s largest and most clearly spelled-out hallucinations in the novel. While at a U2 concert with a group of friends – a concert none of them are very interested in being at, though they, of course, have the most expensive front-row seats – he hallucinates a moment with lead singer Bono in which Bono reveals himself to be the devil. Not only is this another appearance of devil and hell imagery, a symbol which highlights both Bateman’s sadistic tendencies and his entrapment in his own private, isolated world of suffering, but it also reveals that Bateman perhaps feels that his violent actions and feelings are a twisted symbol of status, making him (as the devil is) the supreme ruler of the hell in which he lives.

This passage also foreshadows the many hallucinations Bateman will have later in the novel. His description of the room falling away and white light will be repeated at other moments when he retreats far into his own mind. That being said, Bateman relays this happening to the reader, not as a hallucination, but as fact. Though for now it is clear to the reader that what is happening is inside Bateman’s mind, discerning reality from imagination and truth from misconception or outright fiction will get increasingly difficult as things progress.

A Glimpse of a Thursday Afternoon Quotes

…I’m sweaty and a pounding migraine thumps dull in my head and I’m experiencing a major-league anxiety attack, searching my pockets for Valium, Xanax, a leftover Halcion, anything… I’ve forgotten who I had lunch with earlier, and even more important, where.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Page Number: 148-149
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman’s mental health has begun to deteriorate, and (as both a cause and effect) his reliance on drugs, prescription and otherwise, has been steadily increasing. In this passage and the rest of this chapter, the reader sees just how much drugs grown to affect Bateman’s life. For Bateman, things like where he has lunch and with whom he is seen are incredibly important, as both his society’s system of value and his own self-worth are calculated based on material and social matters like money, fine dining, and “schmoozing.” Now, however, his drug habit has eclipsed this set of values, forcing Bateman to abandon the matters that were once most important to him and helped most to keep him sane. Later in this chapter, he will describe how his physical appearance suffers as a result of this moment, as well as how he makes a fool of himself in front of beggars and waitresses – things the Bateman we met in the first chapter would never think of doing.

Furthermore, as Bateman reveals that he cannot remember even the most important details of his day, the reader is given a warning about the trustworthiness of his narration. Clearly, his mental health and drug use have affected his perception and memory, and we must beware of this going forward and thus take any information he gives up with an ever-growing grain of salt.

Shopping Quotes

My priorities before Christmas include the following: (1) to get an eight o’clock reservation on a Friday night at Dorsia with Courtney, (2) to get myself invited to the Trump Christmas Party aboard their yacht, (3) to find out as much as humanly possible about Paul Owen’s mysterious Fisher account, (4) to saw a hardbody’s head off and Federal Express it to Robin Barker – the dumb bastard – over at Solomon Brothers and (5) to apologize to Evelyn without making it look like an apology.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Evelyn Richards, Courtney Lawrence
Related Symbols: Donald Trump
Page Number: 177-178
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman clearly (and comically) lays out for the reader his priorities, giving a concise and encompassing view of his values. He’s determined to get into the most exclusive and elite restaurant in New York (a huge status symbol) and wants to bring, not his girlfriend, but his colleague’s girlfriend. He also wants access to the party of the season, hosted by the man he idolizes above all others: supreme capitalist and celebrity businessman Donald Trump. At the same time, Bateman’s obsession over Paul Owen’s mysterious Fisher account and his immense jealousy of Owen continues to grow, and his appetite for sadistic, murderous violence against women is stronger than ever. Lastly, his relationship with Evelyn is still entirely detached, and more a matter of status and competition than love or connection.

Christmas Party Quotes

“Stop it. Come on, I want this,” I say and then in a last, desperate attempt I smile flirtatiously, kissing her lightly on the lips, and add, “Mrs. Bateman?”

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Evelyn Richards
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman is a master manipulator. He knows just what to say and just what to offer in order to get what he wants, especially with women. In this case, he knows just how much Evelyn longs to get married; she’s told him herself. She views marriage as a symbol of status that will tie her to Bateman, as well as an opportunity for them to flaunt their wealth. Bateman wants desperately to get out of her party and, essentially, to go do drugs, and now he’s willing to “offer” the one thing Evelyn can’t say no to in order to get access to that.

This moment demonstrates once again the incredibly shallow nature of Evelyn and Bateman’s relationship. She wants a wedding not because of her love for Bateman, but because of her love for his wealth and status. Evelyn is completely blinded by her shallow obsessions and is willing to do something she knows she shouldn’t so (leave her own Christmas Party) in order to get closer to that.

It’s also worth noting that Bateman’s status as a manipulator could very well extend to his relationship to the reader. There is nothing to suggest that he would value the reader or feel any more closeness in that relationship than he does in any of the others in his life. If he’s this quick and easy to lie to his girlfriend, we have to wonder if he’s as happily willing to lie to us, too.

Lunch with Bethany Quotes

I think about other things while she describes her recent past: air, water, sky, time, a moment, a point somewhere when I wanted to show her everything beautiful in the world. I have no patience for revelations, for new beginnings, for events that take place beyond the realm of my immediate vision.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Bethany
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

In this moment the reader gets a glimpse at a previous, and perhaps very different, version of Patrick Bateman. He tells us that he once wanted to show Bethany all of the beauty of the world; he once had an honest and tender appreciation for beauty, and his past relationship with her was such that he wanted to share this with her. We can infer, then, that their relationship was based on a close connection, very unlike Bateman’s current relationship with Evelyn (or anyone else). We learn that he was once capable of connection and tender feeling, but that something must have happened along the way to change this, making him completely isolated from others.

Now, he tells us, he has left this past Bateman behind completely. For whatever reason, he refuses to think about going back or changing his life to begin anew; he is a banker and a killer, and will not allow himself to stray from that path. This is a very rare moment in which Bateman displays a speck of vulnerability and hints to the reader that he knows himself to be more complex of a person than he lets on.

Dinner with Secretary Quotes

And though it has been in no way a romantic evening, she embraces me and this time emanates a warmth I’m not familiar with. I am so used to imagining everything happening the way it occurs in movies, visualizing things falling somehow into the shape of events on a screen, that I almost hear the swelling of an orchestra, can almost hallucinate the camera panning low around us, fireworks bursting in slow motion overhead, the seventy-millimeter image of her lips parting and the subsequent murmur of “I want you” in Dolby sound.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Jean
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Bateman reveals not only his cold isolation, but his deep awareness of it. He knows that he feels no connection to others and has the (quite beautiful) language to discuss it. He is then taken aback not only by Jean’s actions (here, embracing him) but by the honesty and warmth of her connection.

Bateman’s description of this moment through the lens of a film demonstrates his ability to dissociate from his life and the world around him. Even while he’s in the middle of a moment, Bateman is able to step back from it, analyze it, and give a play-by-play of what is happening as if it weren’t his own life or even a true happening at all. His increasing isolation and retreat further and further into his mind leaves him disconnected from the world around him, desensitized to emotions and stimuli from others, and able to think of the situations he’s in and actions he takes as not even part of his own reality.

Girls (2) Quotes

During this Christie has kept on a pair of thigh-high suede boots from Henri Bendel that I’ve made her wear.
Elizabeth, naked, running from the bedroom, blood already on her, is moving with difficulty as she screams out something garbled.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), “Christie”, Elizabeth
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman transitions abruptly from sex to violence here. He has been describing, in graphic detail, his sexual encounter with “Christie” and Elizabeth, including the things he’s instructing them to do to him and to each other and the clothes he’s made them wear. Then, however, he is all of a sudden attacking the women, already having drawn blood. This lack of transition is a symbol of the deterioration of Bateman’s distinction between sex and violence (and, seemingly, the passage of time itself). Where earlier in the novel he would describe sex with a woman and then the movement from sex into violence, here he blacks out and foregoes any transition. Later on, there will be no need for a transition, as sex and violence will have become, for Bateman, one and the same.

The narrative style of this moment also raises res flags around Bateman’s reliability and trustworthiness as a narrator. Has he actually blacked out, not remembering things that have happened? Or is he intentionally choosing to keep parts of the story secret from the reader? Either way, this moment is an important reminder that Bateman’s words cannot be assumed to be realistic or true.

Killing Child at Zoo Quotes

I feel empty, hardly here at all, but even the arrival of the police seems insufficient reason to move and I stand with the crowd outside the penguin habitat… until finally I’m walking down Fifth Avenue, surprised by how little blood has stained my jacket, and I stop in a bookstore and buy a book and then at a Dove Bar stand on the corner of Fifty-sixth Street, where I buy a Dove bar – a coconut one – and I imagine a hole, widening in the sun…

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Page Number: 300
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman has just committed one of his must horrific and risky crimes: the public killing of a young boy at the Central Park Zoo. What’s more, he stuck around afterwards, claiming he’s a doctor and rushing in to try to give the dying boy first aid while a giant crowd circled. Not only does he show no remorse for what he’s done, but he makes no attempt to protect his identity, cover his tracks, or escape the scene to avoid suspicion. By now, he has gone so far deep into his killing spiral that these notions are not even considerations for him.

Bateman’s empty feeling highlights his extreme desensitization to his own violence; he no longer has feelings of any kind when he’s killing, and is able to simply go about his day after the scene, doing something as mundane as buying and eating a Dove ice cream bar.

As we continue to gauge Bateman’s level of sanity and hallucination, it becomes interesting to notice in this particular instance that he says specifically that he “imagines a hole, widening in the sun.” At other moments, he may have told the reader simply that he “saw” it.

Girl Quotes

…I’m hoping she realizes that this would have happened to her no matter what… if she would simply have not taken a cab with me to the Upper West Side, this all would have happened anyway. I would have still found her. This is the way the earth works.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Page Number: 328
Explanation and Analysis:

As he’s looking into the eyes of a woman he’s in the middle of torturing, Bateman takes a moment to ponder inevitability. He imagines that it is fate’s way to bring him and his victims together – that they are, in a way, destined to be killed by him. It also reveals that Bateman himself feels he is out of control of his life and actions; even if he didn’t want to, he was going to kill this woman tonight or at some point in the future. This is both a denial of culpability and a full commitment to violence on Bateman’s part. Was there something special about this woman that made her destined to die at his hand, or does he now feel this way about all women, all people? Now, utterly desensitized to even the pleasures of violence, it seems as if Bateman has given in to killing relentlessly and monotonously.

I can already tell that it’s going to be a characteristically useless, senseless death, but then I’m used to the horror. It seems distilled, even now it fails to upset or bother me.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:

As in the previous passage from this chapter, Bateman reveals what his killing has now become: a monotonous and repetitive habit of his. He has killed so much and so often that the high he once got from murder has begun to wear off. At first, he started killing more often and more recklessly to give himself the same rush – just like a drug addict would increase a dosage – but now he finds himself utterly numb to the pleasures and horrors of his actions.

Throughout the novel, a similar effect can occur for the reader. Though the high volume of intensely horrific and graphic language describing sex, torture, assault, and murder can be truly stomach-churning at first, there is so much of it that, as the novel goes on, the reader, like Bateman, can become desensitized to it, finding each new kill as useless and distilled as Bateman does. What does this say about the reader or the human psyche, then? That anything, even the most horrific acts, can be gotten used to.

At Another New Restaurant Quotes

It’s an isolation ward that serves only to expose my own severely impaired capacity to feel. I am at its center, out of season, and no one ever asks me for any identification. I suddenly imagine Evelyn’s skeleton, twisted and crumbling, and this fills me with glee.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Evelyn Richards
Page Number: 343
Explanation and Analysis:

Having just tricked Evelyn into eating a used urinal cake and then having abruptly broken up with her, Bateman finds himself dissociating, diving into his mind and ignoring the scene around him that he has caused. He feels completely isolated, his recent activities and mental state having pushed him deeper and deeper into his own mind. The metaphor he creates here details his understanding of his experience quite explicitly: completely isolated, with no one attempting to connect with him, getting excitement and happiness only from the fantasies of violence and destruction that he creates in his mind.

In this chapter a change can be noticed in Bateman’s feelings towards Evelyn. Earlier, though their relationship was shallow, disconnected, and cold, Bateman was very rarely downright cruel to Evelyn – the extent of his cruelty was leaving her on call waiting or standing her up for a date. Now, having grown to have no warm feeling for anyone other than his own voice in his head, Bateman takes joy in tricking Evelyn and imagining her dead body crumbling in a way that he earlier would have reserved for a homeless bum.

Tries to Cook and Eat Girl Quotes

…while I grind the bone and fat and flesh into patties, and though it does sporadically penetrate how unacceptable some of what I’m doing actually is, I just remind myself that this thing, this girl, this meat, is nothing, is shit, and along with a Xanax (which I’m now taking half-hourly) this thought momentarily calms me and then I’m humming…

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Page Number: 345
Explanation and Analysis:

Having descended so far into sex, drugs, and killing, Bateman’s materialistic consumption has been exaggerated by Ellis to a cannibalistic consumption, where he has begun preparing and eating the flesh of his victims just as his life of capitalist materialism has eaten away at his own humanity (and that of others). He has not lost his meticulous touch, though, arranging and preparing the food as a delicacy.

Bateman reminds himself that the flesh in front of him is “nothing,” that the woman he killed – now completely objectified as ”meat” – has never been more than an object, something to feed his habit of torture and murder. He no longer recognizes any other person’s humanity, and is calmed by the belief that all those around him exist only to serve the bloodlust that has grown inside him and the mechanic, monotonous habit of killing that he has fallen into.

Bateman’s mention of his new Xanax schedule also shows just how serious his drug addictions now are, as well as the immense volume of varied drugs he is ingesting at all times.

Chase, Manhattan Quotes

…and the sun, a planet on fire, gradually rises over Manhattan, another sunrise, and soon the night turns into day so fast it’s like some kind of optical illusion…

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Devil and Hell
Page Number: 352
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the novel’s climactic scene – Bateman running and driving hijacked cars through the streets of Manhattan, shooting police officers and exploding police cars, huddling in his office surrounded by SWAT team and helicopters – he describes the rising sun as a fiery hellscape, an image of his own purgatory where he must continue his sadistic actions for eternity.

As he describes this sunrise, Bateman reveals his own knowledge that his understanding of time is nearly hallucinatory. Describing the change of day as an “optical illusion,” he not only states explicitly that the timeline of events he relays to the reader is untrustworthy, but that the passage of time (and, thus, events) in the novel may entirely be a trick, not as they seem, an “optical illusion.” In this moment, Bateman essentially confirms for the reader that he is an unreliable narrator and he knows it, casting the entirety of the novel thus far and to come into a shadow of mystery, confusion, and doubt.

Something on Television Quotes

“Please do not sit in the same row in court with Janet. When I look over toward you there she sits contemplating me with her mad eyes like a deranged seagull studying a clam… I can feel her spreading hot sauce on me already…”

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman
Related Symbols: “The Patty Winters Show”
Page Number: 364
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman is watching yet another strange episode of “The Patty Winters Show.” This time, however, the topic is not so strange as to immediately assume the moment to be a hallucination, but instead so right on the money with discussions of violence and guilt that it may be more a manifestation of a glimmer of conscience inside Bateman. This particular quote comes from a real-life letter written by serial killer Ted Bundy in prison, and its mention of hot sauce being spread on a body conflates flesh and food and violence in the same way Bateman has come to do in his killing and cannibalism.

It is also an example of the obsession and feelings of camaraderie Bateman has with famous serial killers like Bundy. He is always bringing them up in conversation – his friends mock him for it – and thinking about their outlook on the world compared to his own. This can be read as a possible origin point for Bateman’s bloodlust or an early attempt for him to rationalize or excuse his behavior. Now, however, when he is so deep down in his spiral of horrors, Bateman finds himself unmoved even by this kinship with other killers, focusing only on the image of flesh made edible.

End of the 1980s Quotes

…it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world can be a better place through one’s taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person’s love or kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term “generosity of spirit” applied to nothing, was a cliché, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason?... Evil is its only purpose. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in.. this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged…

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Page Number: 375
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman takes a moment to – in an incredibly coherent, intelligent, and articulate voice – ruminate on his feelings of isolation and desensitization. Having withdrawn into his own demented mind and grown unfeeling to even the most visceral and horrific acts, he tells the reader that he has never believed in human goodness (or, that he has erased any memory of such experiences or beliefs) and that there is no hope for the world to improve in any way. As he describes it, the world becomes a hell in which there is only eternal pain and suffering.

Bateman even goes so far as to reject sex as nothing but mathematics. What was before one of his favorite activities has now just become something that he does, a habit he goes through the motions of.

Bateman does seem to recognize, however, that he has been led to this point, at least in part, by his shallow Wall Street life. By living a life devoid of individuality, where he strove only to look and present as the best example of a stereotype, and by encouraging all others around him to do so too, he has contributed to this death of civilization that he describes.

…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Page Number: 376-377
Explanation and Analysis:

Continuing his philosophizing from earlier in the chapter, Bateman now turns his attention from the world at large to himself. He has arrived at a point where he is only able to think of himself as a concept. Having gone so far into his own mind and pushed away any form of connection or human understanding, he is now not even able to know himself, and, in a way, objectifies his own flesh just as he has the flesh of the victims he kills, mutilates, and eats.

Bateman’s ability to articulate this displays that, while his sanity has crumbled, his intelligence and perceptiveness has, at least in part and in some moments, remained accessible.

Aspen Quotes

Jeannette should be okay – she has her whole life in front of her (that is, if she doesn’t run into me). Besides, this girl’s favorite movie is Pretty in Pink and she thinks Sting is cool, so what is happening to her is, like, not totally undeserved and one shouldn’t feel bad for her. This is no time for the innocent.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Jeannette
Page Number: 382
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman is on his way to the airport for his winter holiday, having just dropped off Jeannette and forced her (using, in part, violence) to get an abortion. He goes on to excuse and rationalize his actions to himself, shallowly and cruelly using her taste in music and film to determine that she deserves the treatment she is receiving. Though Bateman has done a number of horrific things to women and said a number of despicable things, this moment of such intimate cruelty towards the woman he is now dating stands out and allows the reader to see the degradation of Bateman’s humanity in a new light. While the reader has perhaps been desensitized to drilling a woman’s face or eating her intestines, this deeply personal action and attack is unlike that which Bateman has described before. Interestingly enough, it is a moment of great humanization. The reader sees a woman, beaten, upset, and being forced into an abortion. It’s an incredibly intimate moment, and thus, allows the reader to make a connection and empathize with Jeannette in a way never afforded to the nameless women Bateman tears apart. And so this moment of cruelty seems almost more intense and awful than those surrounding it.

New Club Quotes

“Davis,” he sighs, as if patiently trying to explain something to a child, “I am not one to bad-mouth anyone. Your joke was amusing, but come on, man, you had one fatal flaw: Bateman’s such a bloody ass-kisser, such a brown-nosing goody-goody, that I couldn’t fully appreciate it…. Oh good god, man. Why else would Evelyn Richards dump him? You know, really. He could barely pick up an escort girl, let alone… what was it you said he did to her?”

Related Characters: Harold Carnes (speaker), Patrick Bateman, Evelyn Richards
Page Number: 387-388
Explanation and Analysis:

In this climactic moment, Bateman approaches his lawyer to address the voicemails he left during the chase in which he confessed to all of his crimes. To both the reader and Bateman’s shock, Carnes laughs right in Bateman’s face, mistaking him for someone else and assuming the voicemails were left as a prank. He then goes on to completely tear down Bateman’s character. Clearly, he views Bateman as a complete joke, not the respected (and deadly) alpha-male that Bateman has made himself out to be throughout the novel.

As Bateman’s characterization of himself is completely called into question, the reader must then question with newfound magnitude if everything Bateman has said has been a lie. If all the people around Bateman, like Carnes, view him as such a pitiful loser, he has spent this entire novel pretending to hold a position in society that he does not. If he has fabricated everything – for attention, to boost his self-confidence, to imagine a world where he is the alpha-male he longs to be but never will be – the entire novel is perhaps a complete ruse, an exercise in twisted fantasy.

He stares at me as if we were both underwater and shouts back, very clearly over the din of the club, “Because … I had … dinner … with Paul Owen … in London … just ten days ago.”

Related Characters: Harold Carnes (speaker), Patrick Bateman, Paul Owen
Page Number: 388
Explanation and Analysis:

As this unraveling of the truth continues, the reader and Bateman simultaneously learn that Paul Owen is (seemingly) alive and well and living in London. Bateman has not killed him. When Harold Carnes gives Bateman this news, he goes into a state of shock. From this reaction (if Bateman’s description of the moment can be trusted), it can be assumed that Bateman truly believed he killed Paul Owen. He is being faced with the reality that one of his most climactic killings was a hallucination. What, then, happened? Did he imagine the entire thing, or kill someone else in Owens’ place? Has Carnes mistaken someone else for Owen? And what about Bateman getting into Owen’s apartment, killing women there, and stashing several dead bodies in the bath tub? Did he break in and really commit these acts? If so, that would explain the real estate agent’s shock and terror at having someone come around the apartment asking about Paul Owen.

These questions will, of course, go unanswered by Bateman and Ellis alike. In numerous interviews, Ellis himself has commented on the matter of truth in his novel, saying that he intended to leave the questions unanswered and the truth up-in-the-air, and he has gone so far as to say that he himself is still unsure whether or not Bateman committed the murders in the novel or not.

Taxi Driver Quotes

While walking back to the highway, I stop, choke back a sob, my throat tightens. “I just want to…” Facing the skyline, through all the baby talk, I murmur, “keep the game going.” As I stand, frozen in my position, an old woman emerges behind a Threepenny Opera poster at a deserted bus stop and she’s homeless and begging, hobbling over, her face covered with sores that look like bugs, holding out a shaking red hand. “Oh will you please go away?” I sigh. She tells me to get a haircut.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Related Symbols: Les Misérables
Page Number: 394
Explanation and Analysis:

After a deeply ironic turning of tables, Bateman has just been robbed of his material possessions and bullied by someone he considered to be a far lesser person than him: a taxi driver, who recognized Bateman’s face from wanted posters downtown and claims to have known the taxi driver he killed during the chase. Utterly distraught, the world he’s built for himself inside his head crumbling, Bateman reluctantly weeps. His plea to “keep the game going” reveals a sense, on his part, that things are coming to an end – that he has run his marathon of isolated horror for as long as he can, as long as the world is going to allow him. He is confronted with the fact that, while he has been living inside his head, the world around him has continued to move.

The mention of the “Threepenny Opera” is also a sign of great change. For the entire novel, the posters across town have been for “Les Misérables,” and now even that has changed, moved on to something else.

Bateman’s final exchange with the homeless woman, in which she tells him to get a haircut, is the cherry on top of this moment. A dirty and poor woman, the kind of person Bateman has spent the entire novel despising and discounting, critiques the physical appearance of a man so obsessed with shallow outward appearances that he had a meticulous and lengthy morning routine and wore nothing but the finest clothes. It seems, for a moment, that everything about Patrick Bateman has come to an end.

At Harry’s Quotes

“Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I’m twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, at the end of the century and how people, you know, me, behave, and this is what being Patrick means to me, I guess, so, well, yup, uh…” and this is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry’s is a sign and on the sign in letters that match the drapes’ color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Devil and Hell
Page Number: 399
Explanation and Analysis:

Bateman finds himself out to drinks with his friends, talking about clothing and women and business; it’s as if the events of the entire novel have never happened and we’re right back where we started. Bateman attempts to make an intelligent speech about what it means to be him, at his age, in the age he’s living. But he fumbles. He’s lost his way with words, and is grasping at an explanation for the situation and life and world in which he’s found himself. Trying to make a universal statement, he realizes that he is unlike anyone else around him; he is completely alone.

The final words of the novel, the red text of the sign on the wall, bookends the graffiti from the opening of the novel with a final reference to the devil and hell, this time via an allusion to the Sartre play “No Exit,” in which four people are trapped in a metaphorical purgatory. With this, it is essentially confirmed that Bateman’s fate is sealed; though things around him may have changed and his actions and feelings intensified and become fanciful, he is doomed to, at his core, remain the same. No matter how much he may try to dissociate, revert into his mind, or lash out with sex, drugs, and violence, he cannot escape Patrick Bateman.

No matches.