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A Confederacy of Dunces Summary and Analysis

by John Kennedy Toole

Chapter 10

Ignatius the Nuclear Bomb

At Mattie's Rumble Inn, Jones is again complaining about his miserable existence at the Night of Joy. Mr. Watson suggests that he call the police and tell them that he will be quitting the bar and get a new job soon. Jones flatly rejects this idea, saying he would rather "mop a whore floor, than go to jail." Suddenly, it occurs to Jones exactly what he needs to do to really sabotage Lana Lee. He remembers the fat kook with the green hunting cap who was stirring up trouble over at Levy Pants. He says he wants to drop Ignatius on the Night of Joy like a "nucular bum," since he is just the kind of character who can "make that Lee mother shit in her drawer." Jones plans to be the "mos sabotagin doorman ever guarded a plantation."

The Ladies' Art Guild & Dorian Greene

Ignatius reads in the morning paper that the Ladies' Art Guild is hanging its paintings in Pirate's Alley. He assumes the exhibit will be offensive enough to interest him for a while, and he decides to push his hot dog cart in that direction. When he arrives at the hanging and pushes into the crowd of well-dressed ladies with hats, his costume and the sign on his hot dog cart (on which he has written "Twelve Inches (12) of Paradise") cause quite a stir. The situation deteriorates as Ignatius begins to loudly criticize the ladies' artwork. After Ignatius and the women exchange unpleasantries, he continues on his way.

As he is walking away from the exhibit, he runs into Dorian Greene, the flamboyant homosexual who purchased his mother's hat in the Night of Joy. Dorian is tickled by the pirate costume and remarks that Ignatius would surely bring down the house at a party. Trying to get rid of Dorian, Ignatius points out a sailor walking down the street, noting that "He looks rather lonely." That is no sailor, Dorian replies, but his old, dear friend Timmy. Ignatius is stunned that someone would impersonate a member of the armed forces. Suddenly, he is struck with an idea: if homosexuals infiltrated the armed forces and highest levels of the U.S. Government, and then that infiltration spread across the globe, the next "war" could be a huge orgy instead. This, Ignatius realizes, could be the key to lasting peace--and, more importantly, leading such a movement might allow him to assault the effrontery of Myrna Minkoff. Ignatius proposes to Dorian that they form a political party immediately and start running candidates. Further, Ignatius states, they will need a kickoff rally. This soundd like a party to Dorian, who has not had a good party in quite a while. Dorian thinks his friends would get a kick out of this large buffoon, so he agrees to hold the rally, though he warns Ignatius that there may be a few costumes.

Storage

For George, the problem was all a matter of storage. Because the porter (Jones) was constantly snooping around to get information about the deliveries to the orphans, Lana was insisting that George come by at lunchtime to pick up the packages. But George couldn't deliver them until 3 p.m., so he had to find a place to store them. Since his run-in with Mancuso, the bus station was no longer a viable option. Thinking the cathedral might be a safe haven, he spent a few hours sitting in the pews. As soon as he stepped out of the church, however, he saw the patrolman, disguised as a beatnik, coming down the street behind a sailor. Once again, George needed a new location for storage. Then he remembered the large kook with the hot dog cart--the cart's bun compartment might just work.

Analysis

In prior chapters we saw that Ignatius's disdain for modern culture and its preoccupation with commercialism runs so deep that he has become obsessed with it. He spends hours in front of the television, blasting the programs (such as the teen dance show) which he considers to be offenses to taste and decency. Similarly, though he is a frequent visitor at the movie theater, he will only go to movies that he considers abominations and that he can rail against. When a widely praised movie is playing, he has no interest in seeing it. His obsession is not limited to films and TV shows; it also extends to art, as we learn in Chapter 10. When he reads the morning paper and sees that a ladies' art guild is hanging some of its paintings, he decides to visit the exhibit, not because he believes the artwork will satisfy his artistic tastes, but because he imagines "that the paintings would be offensive enough to interest him for a while." Indeed, when he arrives at the ladies' art guild exhibit, he does nothing but criticize their work, pondering how anyone could "present such abortions to the public" and suggesting that the ladies "settle down to the business of learning how to draw" or that they "all get together and paint someone's house."

The name "Dorian Greene" is a play on "Dorian Gray," the protagonist from the Oscar Wilde novel of the same name. After being convinced that youth and good looks were the most important things in life, Dorian Gray sold his soul and worked out a deal whereby he forever remained the same age while his portrait withered and grew old. Dorian Greene is similarly preoccupied with his appearance, particularly his clothing. At the beginning of the novel, he is described as "an elegantly dressed young man." He becomes quite upset when he spills a daiquiri on his "bottle-green velvet jacket," exclaiming, "Just look at my jacket." In Chapter 10, he shrieks in horror as Ignatius assaults his cashmere sweater with a plastic cutlass. He states "in a vicious and breathless whisper" that this is his "very finest sweater"--which cost him forty dollars. For the attack on his sweater, he labels Ignatius a "maniac," a "disgusting monster," an "awful creature," and a "terrible animal." Moreover, the similarities between the two Dorians are not limited to the emphasis they place on their physical appearances. After making his deal with the devil, Dorian Gray leads an increasingly hedonistic lifestyle. In the same manner, Dorian Greene throws extravagant parties for the New Orleans counterculture. He even indicates that the hat he bought from Mrs. Reilly "was destroyed at a really wild gathering."

In this chapter, we again see Ignatius's willingness to exploit others as a means to his own personal ends. Ignatius decides to start a political movement made up entirely of homosexuals, in an attempt to help them infiltrate into the highest reaches of the government and the military. This plan is not due to any affinity Ignatius feels for or with homosexuals, to whom he refers as "sodomites" and "tarts." His true motivation here, as it was in the case of the Levy Pants demonstration, is likely to "[assault] the effrontery of M. Minkoff."

On the other hand, perhaps Ignatius actually does feel a connection to homosexuals, his derogatory comments notwithstanding. When contemplating the "Crusade for Moorish Dignity," Ignatius had said, "In a sense, I have always felt something of a kinship with the colored race because its position is the same as mine: we both exist outside the inner realm of American society." Ignatius claimed to feel connected to the Levy Pants factory workers because like him and his ideas, the black workers were outsiders in American society. The same could be said about homosexuals in that time, who for different reasons are outsiders in modern society.

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