American Psycho

American Psycho


Bret Easton Ellis

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American Psycho: Shopping Summary & Analysis

Bateman details his lengthy holiday shopping list and his plans for purchasing. He says he could have just sent Jean on this errand, but has decided to do it himself. On the way to Saks, he passes a bum on the street and then has a brief panic attack when Bateman realizes he may be taping a porn film over another porn film on his VCR at home. A Xanax doesn’t help him.
Shopping for gifts is another opportunity for Bateman to flaunt his wealth in front of others; he enjoys that. Unsurprisingly, the sight of the bum inspires in Bateman a completely selfish and mundane thought.
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Bateman tells the reader his four goals for the holiday season, which include: a reservation at Dorsia for himself and Courtney, an invitation to the Trump Christmas party, learning more about Paul Owen’s Fisher account, and sawing a woman’s head off. In the store, he lists to the reader the luxurious and expensive items laid out before him. He stops for a moment to check his Rolex, wondering if he has time for a massage and facial, and then runs into a colleague of his who invited him to a Christmas party. Bateman shouts expletives at him and tap dances away to the sounds of a choir. He takes another moment to list the items around him in the store, and then pops three Halcion and heads to the Clinique counter to buy multiple tubes of shaving cream. While he’s there, he makes a mental note to “put in an appearance at Evelyn’s Christmas party” and wonders if he should ask one of the Clinique girls to be his date.
Bateman’s goals for the holiday season show his most important preoccupations. The first two involve materiality and status (via the restaurant and man Bateman obsesses over), while the second two involve some of his more secret obsessions. This scene involves a number of contrasts. First, the list of goals is darkly humorous in its juxtaposition of the mundane, the material, and the sadistically murderous. Second, the almost trance-like listing of the expensive items surrounding Bateman is contrasted with the bustle of the holiday season, and again this typically wholesome “holiday shopping” image is juxtaposed with Bateman’s foul language and lewd, adulterous fantasies at the Clinique counter.
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
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