American Psycho

American Psycho

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Themes and Colors
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in American Psycho, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon

Throughout the novel, instances of consumed and mistaken identity contribute to a growing experience of isolation on the part of both the reader and narrator. Bateman is repeatedly mistaken for other people; when he is out with his friends it is not uncommon for someone to greet him as someone else and not be corrected. These constant moments of mistaken identity suggest that, within the world of the novel, it isn’t really important who somebody is because the characters’ value and knowledge of one another is entirely superficial. In a community where no one has any real relationships, no one truly to truly know or connect with, Bateman ends up isolated inside his mind, where he eventually begins to crumble and go insane. In fact, Ellis borrows the idea that isolation is inherent in a capitalist society from the communist thinker Karl Marx, and creates for his narrator and reader an experience of isolation in a hyper-capitalist community.

Ellis amplifies this notion for the reader by surrounding Bateman with a rotating group of fellow Wall Street bankers (who almost always refer to one another by last name) and offering little-to-no introduction for new minor characters. While this can lead to immense confusion, it also sets up a world in which people are interchangeable, not worth getting to know, and exist more as objects than humans. With no other characters to get to know, the reader is left alone and isolated with Bateman and his (increasingly psychotic) mind. Ironically, the one person who seems to truly care for and be interested in Bateman is his secretary, Jean (“who is in love with me”). For the majority of the novel Bateman treats her rudely, telling her what she should be wearing and how to behave and ordering her around coldly. Despite this, Jean has an affection for Bateman that is evident nowhere else in the novel, and she often attempts to better get to know him. But just when it seems as if the two may be nearing a closer and intimate connection, Bateman brushes off her affection and friendship. Unwilling (or unable) to open up to her (to engage with and reveal his true self and identity) Bateman recedes into his isolation.

This connection between mistaken identity and isolation comes to a head surrounding the murder of Paul Owen. After killing Owen, Bateman buys a ticket to London in Owen’s name and then sets up Owen’s New York apartment to make it look as if Owen has left town. When a private investigator looking into the disappearance comes to speak with Bateman, he mentions this and says that Owen has been possibly sighted in London. Knowing that Owen is dead, Bateman assumes that these witnesses were mistaken. But when Bateman later approaches his lawyer regarding a voicemail in which he confessed to the murder, his lawyer tells him that he “had dinner… with Paul Owen… twice… in London… just ten days ago.” Suddenly a number of questions arise: Is Paul Owen alive or dead? Did Bateman simply imagine or fantasize about killing him? Did Bateman kill someone else he only thought was Owen? But Ellis (or Bateman) never gives the reader more knowledge, and it’s never even clear if it is Ellis or Bateman who is leaving the questions unresolved. And so, suddenly, the reader who has been in Bateman’s head through his first-person narration is thrust out of Bateman’s head, leaving Bateman alone and isolated with the truth of what he has done, alone with his own questions, guilt, or confusion.

The novel suggests that Bateman is the ultimate result of a society where identity is tied solely to material worth, and so he is unable to connect with others and recedes into his own mind – unable even to recognize or understand other people, and in the end is driven so far into his own mind as to be inaccessible even to the reader.

Get the entire American Psycho LitChart as a printable PDF.
American psycho.pdf.medium

Identity and Isolation Quotes in American Psycho

Below you will find the important quotes in American Psycho related to the theme of Identity and Isolation.
April Fools Quotes

“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.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other American Psycho quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.