Summary of Chapter Ten
Gus Levy is a nice guy, liked everywhere he goes, except at Levy’s Lodge, the family vacation home. Mrs. Levy uses the daughters to attack her husband. Mrs. Levy is putting face cream on Miss Trixie. He argues they are torturing her; she just wants to retire. Gus says he is trying to sell Levy Pants. The area is becoming a slum. The only hope is to put in a supermarket chain or make it a warehouse.
Jones gives a report of his progress at Mattie’s Ramble Inn over a beer. Watson does not like that Lana Lee is making Jones dress like a plantation darky for Darlene’s act. Watson tells him to quit his job and tell the police he is looking for work, but Jones says he would land in jail if he goes to the police: “Goin in jail the bes way you get you something to eat regular” (p. 282). Since he is unskilled and colored, he has to stick it out. He tells how he sabotaged Lana’s illegal packages. He wishes he could get Ignatius back to the bar because everything he does is sabotage.
Ignatius is gaining weight and feeling unhealthy from eating too many Paradise hot dogs. He can no longer control his mother. She keeps questioning him about his politics, trying to find out if he is a communist. Myrna keeps appearing to him in dreams as an antagonist. On Canal Street Ignatius offends as many people as possible, telling the women’s art guild they do not know how to draw. Finally he runs into the gay man he met at the Night of Joy who bought his mother’s hat, named Dorian Greene. Dorian likes talking with Ignatius because he is an original. He keeps pointing out that Ignatius is nuts and should be locked up. Ignatius is offended and keeps making negative remarks about the gay community. They keep trading insults until Dorian spots his friend, Timmy, a sailor. Ignatius is alarmed that there are gays in the military: “Every soldier and sailor that we see could simply be some mad decadent in disguise” (p. 294). Suddenly they see Mancuso on the street in a new disguise wearing a beret. He is following the sailor. Dorian says everyone in the Quarter knows Mancuso. The gay community loves his outfits. Sometimes they have him arrested for indecent proposals.
Ignatius decides that a gay military could be the key to world peace, because they would be more interested in orgies and parties than fighting. Dorian says they would also put an end to the population increase. Ignatius discusses the possibility of a gay political party. They plan a kick-off event at Dorian’s so Ignatius can organize. Ignatius is excited to get Dorian and all his friends to read Boethius. Dorian says there will be a few costumes at the get-together, but Ignatius insists on no female impersonators.
George is stuck with his illegal packages for a few hours in the afternoon and always looking for a hiding place. He spots Ignatius’s hot dog cart with its nice roomy compartments.
Commentary on Chapter Ten
Underneath the comedy, there is serious social commentary. For instance, the difference between lower-class blacks and middle-class blacks comes out in the conversation between Jones and Mr. Watson. Watson believes Jones can straighten everything out by going to the police and getting their help. Jones knows that black people do not want the attention of the police in any way.
This chapter finally takes up another minority population: the gay community. Dorian Greene finds Ignatius an entertaining freak and is willing to go along with him for a new thrill. Gays in the military of course has become an important contemporary topic. Toole is ahead of his time in his proposal for world peace. As the novel moves forward, the characters and their lives become more tightly interwoven, even to the point of absurdity with George depositing Lana’s goods in Ignatius’s hot dog cart.
Ignatius decides he is now a mentor to the gay community and will get them to read Boethius. He designs a reading curriculum for Dorian, starting with the medieval period. He can skip the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Romantics and Victorians, he says. In the contemporary period, “you should study some selected comic books” (p. 299). Ignatius especially likes Batman “for he tends to transcend the abysmal society in which he’s found himself” (p. 299). This implies Ignatius thinks the same of himself.