Bateman is out having drinks with a group of his Wall Street colleagues, including Price and McDermott. He tells the reader about the “hardbodies” they’re dating, describes in detail what each of them is wearing, and then the others begin asking him questions about the particularities of fashion. Bateman tells the reader that he fantasizes about draining a woman’s blood through her vagina, making a necklace out of her bones, and masturbating. Bateman daydreams, recalling an ATM speaking to him and a park bench that followed him for several blocks, before being asked if he’s made a reservation for dinner. On the bar TV, “The Patty Winters Show” is playing; the topic is “Does Economic Success Equal Happiness?” All then man in the bar cheer: definitely.
Despite everything that just occurred, it seems all is back to normal in Bateman’s life; he’s out to drinks with his friends, and they’re discussing women and fashion. This scene could have come from the beginning of the book, before Bateman’s spiraling decent into drugs, sex, and murder ever happened. Even his horrendous fantasy about killing a woman and playing with her bones feels at least somewhat harmless in comparison to his (seemingly) real-world actions of committing actual torture and murder. Then, however, Bateman recalls two of the must hallucinatory images in the novel, and the reader is thrown back into questioning truth, and is reminded that, though Bateman may have momentarily appeared stable, he is still very disturbed. The comically perfect topic on “The Patty Winters Show” and the crowd’s cheerful response is an ironic feather in the cap of the novel’s brutal depictions of Wall Street materialism, and a suggestion that perhaps all of these men, like Bateman, are psychos.
The men continue arguing about restaurants and making fun of others’ appearances. Another colleague stops by the table and asks who’s handling the Fisher account now. No one seems to care; now it’s the Shepard account they’re all interested in. As they’re getting ready to leave, Bateman spots someone who looks like Marcus Halberstam across the way. Bateman then jumps back into the conversation, telling his group that he is who he is and he does what he has to do. Just as he’s leaving, Bateman spots a sign hanging on the wall. It reads: “This is not an exit.”
With the movement from the Fisher account to the Shepard account, Ellis suggests to the reader that Bateman’s life is going to continue on as it has; that with the end of one phase will begin another, identical one. Perhaps he hasn’t learned anything or changed in any way throughout the course of the novel. He even makes a speech about the permanence of his character. The final line of the novel perfectly bookends the first, with another allusion to hell (via the play “No Exit”). Bateman is as trapped as ever.