American Psycho Critical Essay

Later in the novel Ellis changes the narrative from first to third in a chapter long sentence.

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So, I wrote a book that is all surface action: no narrative, no characters to latch onto, flat, endlessly repetitive.

I used comedy to get at the absolute banality of the violence of a perverse decade. But that is how, as a writer, I took in those years.

The chapter is titled, “A Glimpse of a Thursday Afternoon.” The first sentence of the chapter begins, “and it’s mid-afternoon and I find myself standing at a phone booth on a corner somewhere downtown, I don’t know where, but I’m sweaty and a pounding migraine thumps dully in my head and I’m experiencing a major-league anxiety attack…” The sentence starts with a completely lowercase word.

This forces the title of the chapter to be included in its first sentence.

may be surface level, the novel’s true meanings can be analyzed through its use of alternate grammar.

These usages are primarily formatting and repetition.In this same scene Bateman explains, for no apparent reason, why he is the way he is: Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I’m twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, at the end of the century and how people, you know, me, behave, and this is what being Patrick means to me, I guess, so well, yup, uh…(Ellis 399)In this quote, Bateman speaks about his identity.Though he does not explicitly say anything about himself, an explanation can be extracted from the use of italics.This use of narrative shift not only shows the complexity of Bateman’s identity, but also the idea of Bateman as the ultimate unreliable narrator.The reader now knows that he cannot trust any of Bateman’s accounts.None of the chapters in the novel are numbered and there are no page breaks between them.This is a deliberate choice by Ellis to maintain the novel’s stream of consciousness narrative.There are several examples of formatting contributing to the themes in .The first example is how the chapters are formatted.This makes the question of whether the violence did or did not happen all the more difficult for the reader to decide.The theme of complex identity is featured in other uses of alternate grammar in the last chapter of the novel.


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