A Confederacy of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces Summary and Analysis of Chapter 8

The Miss Trixie Project

Having successfully blackmailed Mr. Levy, Mrs. Levy now has Miss Trixie at Levy's Lounge. Despite Miss Trixie's repeated exclamations that she just wants to retire, Mrs. Levy keeps hammering into her head that she is an attractive woman who is valued and wanted.

Miss Trixie tells Mrs. Levy about her old friend Gloria, the only Levy Pants coworker to show her some compassion. On one occassion, Gloria even brought her tube socks and a sandwich. Sadly, Mr. Levy viciously and callously fired Gloria. "Gloria," of course, is really Ignatius (Gloria was a former Levy Pants employee, for whom she is mistaking Ignatius). Unaware of this fact, Mrs. Levy is outraged that her husband terminated not only the young idealist but also kind-hearted Gloria. This idea provides her with additional fodder for turning her daughters against their father.

Patrolman Mancuso's Run-in with George

Wearing a false beard and monocle and feeling sicker than ever, Patrolman Mancuso is sitting in a bathroom stall, reading the copy of The Consolation of Philosophy which Ignatius lent him. Peering through the crack in the stall door, he notices a young man at the lavatories, George. Recognizing him as someone he has seen hanging around at the bus station every day, Mancuso decides to confront him. When George responds nervously, Mancuso attempts to take him into custody. Grabbing the large Boethius book from the patrolman's grasp, he slams the book against the side of Mancuso's head and escapes the bathroom. Before leaving the bus station, he opens a locker and removes the packages he had stored inside. The scene means bad luck for George, since he fears that the officer will be patrolling the station all the time now. George decides that he needs to find a new place to store Lana's products. Some good did come from the confrontation, however, since he still has the Boethius in his hands--so Lana now has a book for her pose.


Playing matchmaker, Santa Battaglia throws a small get-together in an attempt to introduce Mrs. Reilly and her admirer. Santa makes some potato salad and invites her nephew, Officer Mancuso, as well. Feeling tired and extremely sick, Mancuso lays down to rest in the back, while Mrs. Reilly throws down drink after drink, nervously awaiting her suitor. Once her admirer arrives, she recognizes him as Claude Robichaux, the old man who tried to stand up for Ignatius outside of D.H. Holmes.

As they reminisce about the events outside of the department store, Claude recounts how humiliated he was when he learned that his daughter and her family had been informed of his arrest. He states that he still hates that communist of a police officer who took him into custody. Thus, there is quite a bit of tension in the room when Santa brings Mancuso in from the back. Claude even threatens that if the patrolman were not a cop, he would punch him right in the nose. Things settle down eventually, and everyone makes up after Mancuso apologizes for arresting Claude. All agree, however, that someone still deserves a punch in the nose.


In Chapter 8, Mrs. Levy continues her rehabilitation program with Miss Trixie, whom she now has in person. Miss Trixie makes it abundantly clear that she just wants to retire and wants nothing to do with Mrs. Levy or her rehabilitation project. She even remarks that "It was much nicer in there with [Gonzalez]." Yet, Mrs. Levy completely ignores everything that Miss Trixie says and continues to implement the treatment that she believes is in the old assistant accountant's best interest. Mrs. Levy's utter disregard for Miss Trixie's feelings and wishes undermines her claim that she is really interested in helping Miss Trixie. Mr. Levy clearly recognizes this fact, telling his wife to "Let her alone," because "All she wants is to retire and sleep." In reality, Mrs. Levy is driven by a desire to remain dominant over her husband. She is using Miss Trixie so that she can write to Susan and Sandra, telling them how she has worked selflessly to make poor Miss Trixie "feel wanted and needed and loved," while their father is trying "to crush her by retiring her."

While at Levy's Lounge, Miss Trixie repeatedly refers to Ignatius as her friend "Gloria." To some extent, this can be attributed to Miss Trixie's old age and senility. At the same time, referring to Ignatius as "Gloria" creates gender ambiguity. Previous chapters have raised the possibility that Ignatius has a sexual identity crisis. Earlier, he fantasized about his childhood collie, Rex, as he masturbated. Myrna Minkoff accused Ignatius of having homosexual tendencies, and after his first day of work at Levy Pants, he suggested to his mother that he was attracted to senile, old Miss Trixie. All of these elements hint that Ignatius does not have a fully mature heterosexuality. Now, with Miss Trixie mistaking Ignatius for a woman, Toole is providing another subtle dig at his protagonist's sexual identity.

The confrontation between George and Officer Mancuso at first suggests that the patrolman might not be completely inept. He recognizes George as someone he has seen snooping around the bus station for the past few days, and his investigator instincts tell him that this is a suspicious character. Officer Mancuso is correct: George's intentions are underhanded, since we know he is attempting to conceal Lana Lee's pornographic photographs so that he can sell them to children later each day. Acting on his suspicions, Mancuso attempts to take George into custody in a momentary lapse into competence. But a simple strike to the head allows George to escape. Ironically, Officer Mancuso becomes an accomplice to George's suspicious behavior, supplying the book that completes Lana's obscene teacher photograph.