American Psycho

American Psycho

American Psycho Detective Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It’s now August. Bateman is sitting in his office when Jean tells him a Mr. Donald Kimball is here to see him. Bateman tells Jean to tell Kimball that he’s not in, but the man is right outside the door. Bateman puts down the Sports Illustrated he’s been doodling on and picks up the phone, pretending to be in the middle of an important call about fabrics, as Mr. Kimball comes in. When Bateman eventually gets off the phone, the two men both apologize to one another. Kimball tells Bateman that he’s been hired by Paul Owen’s girlfriend to investigate his disappearance, and has been making his rounds talking to all of the men in Owen’s social and work circle. Bateman shows concern and offers Kimball a bottle of San Pellegrino. Kimball refuses, but Bateman insists Jean bring one.
It’s business as usual, once again, for Bateman; he’s sitting in his office and avoiding anything that may remotely be considered “work.” That is, until someone needs his attention; as he’s done before on the phone with women, Bateman creates an appearance of busyness (and, thus, importance) for the man who’s come to see him. When the man announces that he is a detective looking into Paul Owen’s disappearance, Bateman is flustered and begins to overcompensate in his hospitality out of anxiety over his guilt. Could his violent actions be finally about to have consequences?
Themes
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
Kimball begins to ask Bateman some basic questions: his age, where he lives, where he went to school. Bateman is nervous, and Kimball notices this. Bateman starts smoking and dry swallows two Nuprin. Kimball begins to ask about Owen, and Bateman manages to tell him only that he ate a well-balanced diet and was involved in “that whole Yale thing” (meaning he was a closeted homosexual). The awkward questioning continues, with Bateman being not entirely helpful in his answers. Kimball brings up Owen’s outgoing voicemail, which said he was going to London. Owen’s girlfriend, however, doesn’t buy this, even though some people have claimed to have seen Owen out and about in London.
Bateman turns to drugs – a Nuprin – to help him calm his nerves. When pressed for details about Owen, Bateman tries to distract from his guilt and nervousness by repeatedly insulting Owen’s masculinity and discussing mundane and unhelpful aspects of his life. When Kimball starts talking about whether or not Paul Owen is in London, the seed is planted for one of the novel’s largest questions of truth: if Paul Owen has been seen in London, how could Bateman have killed him? For the time being, however, Bateman (and Kimball, as well, it seems) assume that these witnesses are mistaken (especially as everyone seems to be constantly confusing each others’ identities in this Wall Street world).
Themes
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
Kimball finally asks Bateman if he can tell him where he was on the night of Owen’s disappearance. Bateman makes up a date with a girl, though this doesn’t match what Kimball has heard elsewhere. Kimball asks Bateman the last time he was with Paul Owen, and, again, he makes something up. Finally, Kimball reveals that the item in Owen’s planner the night he disappeared was a dinner with Marcus Halberstam, though Halberstam denies this and has an alibi that checks out clean: Halberstam was out to dinner with a group of men, including Bateman.
Bateman flubs his alibi, which could throw suspicion onto him, yet Halberstam’s statement that he was with Bateman on the night of the disappearance further clouds the truth. Is Halberstam just mistaken, or was Bateman with him (and not Paul Owen) on the night of the “disappearance”?
Themes
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
The awkward “interrogation” continues, with Kimball bringing up another similar case and then making some strange comments about how the earth just sometimes “opens up and swallows people.” Bateman is finally able to usher Kimball out of the door, feeling both anxious and relieved, and pops a Xanax. A few days later, he bumps into Owen’s girlfriend, though she mentions nothing of the disappearance or investigation.
Though much remains unclear, a possibility emerges that Bateman never killed Paul Owen; did he hallucinate this, or simply lie to the reader? These questions will continue to grow throughout the rest of the novel, and Donald Kimball, though referenced, will not reappear or continue his investigation.
Themes
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
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