American Psycho

American Psycho

American Psycho Birthday, Brothers Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It’s Bateman’s brother Sean’s birthday. Earlier in the week, their father’s accountant and estate trustee both phoned Bateman, encouraging him to use this as an excuse to take his brother out to dinner and find out what he’s doing with his life. Bateman doesn’t think it will work, and imagines where he would take his brother to dinner – they could never get a table at Dorsia, and Sean would hate it there. The day of, Bateman calls his brother, telling him something bad has happened and suggesting they get dinner. He tells him he’ll call back, and when he does later, it’s to instruct Bateman to meet him at Dorsia at 9:30.
Bateman’s relationship with his brother, like all of his others, is disconnected – even his father (via his employees) sees their relationship and the occasion of Sean’s birthday only as a tool for getting some information. There is great irony in Sean making a reservation at Dorsia. Bateman, who seems to have a condescending dislike for his brother, couldn’t imagine him having the class to appreciate such a restaurant, let alone be the kind of person able to get a reservation.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
That evening at Dorsia, Sean is late and Bateman is left to wait, humiliated. After a half hour, he heads to the bathroom and returns to find Sean settling into their booth. Sean, 23, has just returned from a mysterious trip in Europe – his father received a bill from a luxury hotel, but it’s unclear if he was really there or not. He’s since re-enrolled at Camden and, Bateman notices mockingly, started to pluck his eyebrows. Sean waves at a waiter to bring over menus and they order. Sean orders the most expensive items on the menu: lobster for both his appetizer and entrée. He’s clearly just trying to get a rise out of his older brother, and it works. They make small talk over dinner, until an extremely attractive woman (blonde, carrying a “Les Misérables” program) stops by their table to say hello to Sean, who pays her absolutely no mind, though he notices Bateman looking at her.
Sean’s tardy arrival leaves Bateman feeling awkward and exposed at a very important restaurant. It’s likely this is an intentional power play on the part of his younger brother, who, throughout the dinner, seems to be trying to assert his dominance, just as Bateman does with others. Despite Bateman’s best efforts, Sean seems to be the victor here, though Bateman attacks his masculinity by mentioning his eyebrow grooming. (Bateman, a notorious groomer himself, isn’t implying that eyebrow plucking is effeminate as much as he is inferring that his brother is “finally becoming a man.”) When he orders nothing but lobster, Sean moves from trying to assert his dominance over his brother to manipulating his brother’s need for dominance (paying the check) for his own gain. Clearly, Sean doesn’t have the same dire need for status as his brother, but still enjoys it and enjoys playing with it.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Sean doesn’t touch his food, and when the time comes to wrap up dinner, tells Bateman that all of the bars Bateman plans to go to later in the evening are no longer the cool places to be. To save face, Bateman tells his brother that he’s going to one of Donald Trump’s parties, and says he could even introduce him. Sean wants to go to an exclusive club that’s just opened, and Bateman is sure his brother could get them in. Bateman daydreams for a while about videotapes – whether he’ll have time to fetch ones he needs to return from his apartment or if he should go purchase more. He’s interrupted by Sean saying, “Damien,” but he’s misheard; Sean is really complementing his tan. Bateman pays the bill and the two leave the restaurant.
Sean, who has clearly ordered expensive food just to make his brother pay for it, switches back to playing for dominance over Bateman, attacking his brother’s knowledge of the hippest nightlife. Bateman tries to outdo his brother by mentioning Donald Trump, but Sean doesn’t seem to care too much about this. The mishearing of “Damien” is another reference to hell and the devil: Damien is the name often associated with the antichrist or child of Satan, most notably in the famous film The Omen.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon