American Psycho

American Psycho

American Psycho End of the 1980s Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bateman describes to the reader his hallucinatory dreams: he smells blood, remembers his past at Harvard, thinks about car wrecks and football games, and hears Madonna singing “Like a Prayer.” He’s on his way to meet Jean for brunch when he is stopped by a kid with a clipboard, asking him what’s the saddest song he knows. Then Bateman sees a car wreck and stares at the pools of blood on the ground before buying an apple. He and Jean spend time guessing which shapes are in the clouds; she sees things like puppies and tulips, while Bateman sees Gucci money clips and women cut in two.
Bateman’s dreams seem to be just as strange as his waking life, and by including this dream description, Ellis makes things very clear for the reader: there is no distinction left between Bateman’s true life and fantasy, and so, what he says to the reader (whether awake or asleep) cannot be trusted. Bateman’s walk to meet Jean is almost surrealistically depressing – being asked about sad songs, seeing a car wreck – but he finds it delightful. He and Jean’s cloud guessing game is a darkly comical moment which clearly shows the differences between what is on her mind and what is on his.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
At brunch, Bateman looks fondly on Jean; she looks good. She asks if there are any museum exhibitions they should visit and they order coffee (Bateman mistakenly says “decapitated” instead of “decaffeinated”). They talk about going to dinner that evening, though Jean is insistent she only wants to go if Bateman wants to go. Suddenly, Jean asks Bateman if he’s ever wanted to make someone happy. Bateman replies with a strange story; he tells her about going out to dinner once and seeing a strange man in the men’s room scrawling on the wall. When he looked over to see what the man had been writing, it said “Kill… All… Yuppies.” Jean is unsure how to react, and to break the awkward silence, Bateman starts talking about Ted Bundy.
It’s hard to tell what Bateman is doing getting lunch with Jean. Has he finally decided to give in to her affection? Has he been feeling isolated and missing connection, and knows that Jean is the best person to provide that? He has a funny “Freudian slip” (saying the wrong word by accident, but in a way that reveals something deeper about his psychology); all of the mentions of violence in this chapter seem to be, for some reason, somewhat lighthearted. When Jean tries to ask Bateman a deep question, though, he’s still unable to open up to her, and instead tells her a dark and strange story, seeming not to realize that this is an inappropriate response. It’s almost as if he’s making an effort to make a genuine connection, but doesn’t know how or is entirely unable to do so.
Themes
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
Next, Bateman pauses the action between him and Jean to recite to the reader a long, philosophical quote about nature, the earth, truth, sex, reason, justice, and evil, and then he then jumps back to his conversation with Jean. She’s been talking on this whole time and tells Bateman that she’s always been alone and is in love with him. Bateman quickly tells her that he loves someone else, though something may be able to be done about that—or, maybe not. Jean is embarrassed and apologetic, though Bateman urges her not to be. She tells him she can’t fight her feelings and that her life is so much fuller with him in it.
Bateman’s moments of philosophical musing are unlike any other passages in the book. Though dark, they are eloquent and poetic in their discussions of grand topics, and display not only his intelligence, but a sensitivity and an empathy of thought that he hasn’t shown before. When Jean admits her love for Bateman, however, he recoils entirely, making an awkward excuse instead of talking about his feelings in return, whatever they may be.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
Again, Bateman leaves this action to philosophize. This time, he talks about “the idea of Patrick Bateman,” breaking himself up into sketches of his past and his vice and his pain. He finishes, however, by saying, “There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing…” Back with Jean, Bateman continues to hear about her feelings. She thinks he’s sweet, which is sexy, and thinks there’s no one like him.
Bateman’s speech on “the idea of Patrick Bateman” is an incredible moment in which he breaks himself down theoretically. It reveals not only the way he thinks about his own identity, but that his sterile and organizational nature is (or has been) applied not only to his surroundings and social interactions, but to his own concept of himself. When he tells the reader this has meant nothing, though, the truth and reliability of the entire remarkable passage is thrown to the wind; maybe it’s untrue, maybe he’s embarrassed, maybe he’s in denial. In his moment of isolation, obsessing over breaking apart his personality,
Themes
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
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Bateman then has an epiphany: he realizes that nothing he can do or say will change the way Jean feels, and that it is more her image of him that is controlling his behavior than who he himself really is. For a moment, he feels the coldness that he has always felt leave him – this moment, however, ends abruptly. Bateman tells Jean that he recently found a stash of cocaine and threw it away. He asks her if she has a briefcase, saying that Evelyn has a briefcase. Jean tries to be empathetic, but doesn’t know how to respond. Bateman disappears into his mind again, describing an image of a young, thirsty child in the desert. He hears phones ringing, and comes back to stare at Jean, unsure how to explain the sensation he’s feeling.
Bateman misses the final chance to connect with another person. Instead, he continues to push people away, a moment of warmth passing him by, and he launches into a typically scattered rant. His final moment of musing, however, may reveal to the reader that Bateman is aware of what is happening to him, aware of his isolation and his missing out on connection; perhaps he is the thirsty child, desperate, completely alone, and with no idea how to find “water” (true connection).
Themes
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon