American Psycho

American Psycho

American Psycho Harry’s (2) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bateman is at a late lunch with two other Wall Street bankers, Todd Hamlin and George Reeves. The three men are discussing clothing: must socks and trousers match? And shoes? Bateman takes a moment to describe in detail what each of them is wearing, before returning to the conversation, now discussing the proper occasions and ways to wear vests with formal wear. Bateman makes his way over to the bar for another drink and overhears two men discussing a new nightclub run by the owners of Tunnel. When he returns to the table, Reeves is telling Hamlin how he likes to taunt homeless people with dollars before whisking them away. Though Bateman often does the same thing, he insists it’s proper to “just… say… no…” to beggars, especially homeless pregnant women.
This lunch is very typical for Bateman and his Wall Street crowd: lots of drinking, and talk mostly of shallow things like fashion and nightclubs, as Ellis sets up another kind of monotonous routine in Bateman’s life. Again in this moment, we see Bateman criticizing someone else for something he does himself. Here, as well, it is a gesture towards superiority: by scolding Reeves, Bateman makes himself seem like a better, greater person.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Across the way, Bateman spots Paul Owen. He asks the others who Owen is sitting with, and they argue over his guest’s identity. Before they reach a conclusion, Owen stops by their table. Owen asks Bateman how the Hawkins account is going and how his girlfriend Marcia is. Bateman realizes that he’s mistaking him for Marcus Halberstam, another banker. Bateman suggests that he and Owen get drinks; Owen agrees and leaves him his business card, which, to Bateman’s relief, is not as nice as his own. One of the men who came to the table with Owen is introduced as Paul Denton. While the conversation is going on, Bateman notices Denton staring at him strangely; he wonders whether or not Denton remembers the drunken night when they previously met.
Here, even the identity of the fabled Paul Owen is confused by some of Bateman’s lunch guests. However, Owen makes his own identity mistake, thinking that Bateman is really Halberstam; this mistake will be lasting and continue throughout the rest of the novel, eventually getting under Bateman’s skin. The moment Bateman has with Paul Denton is another example of a fear of homosexuality (as something that makes a man less masculine). The notion that Denton might be eyeing Bateman sexually is perhaps supported by the fact that Paul Denton had a sexual relationship with Bateman’s brother, Sean, in Ellis’ previous novel The Rules of Attraction.
Themes
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
When Paul Owen and his friends leave, Bateman, Hamlin, and Reeves immediately begin talking about him, mostly about his girlfriend, who they deem a “hardbody.” They launch into a discussion of women, all agreeing that there is no such thing as a girl with a “good personality.” Any woman who is smart or interesting is, of course, ugly. To cap off their discussion, Bateman quotes serial killer Ed Gein – the others all remark how Bateman is always bringing up serial killers. Gein says that whenever he sees a beautiful woman, part of him wonders what it would be like to love her and treat her right, and the other part wonders what her head would look like on a spike.
Bateman and his friends objectify women yet again. Bateman’s friends notice that he quite often brings up famous serial killers; they consider it only a personality quirk, but the reader, with an inside look into Bateman’s mind, can read this as an obsession linked to his violent tendencies. This specific quote from Ed Gein sounds just like something Bateman would say to the reader, though his friends would never believe it to be true.
Themes
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon