A Confederacy of Dunces Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


A Confederacy of Dunces: Chapter 12

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Summary of Chapter Twelve


As  Ignatius dresses for the kickoff rally with Dorian and his friends, he gets a special delivery letter from Myrna. He had sent her a telegram telling her to start organizing in New York for the new political party he is forming with the instruction, “RECRUIT SODOMITES ONLY” (p. 355). She writes back that he is cracking up and confused about his sexual orientation because he is blocking his normal sexual outlet. He is happy he has gotten a response from her. Mrs. Reilly thinks he is going to a communist meeting. She asks him if he would not like a little rest at the Charity Hospital. He replies, “Psychiatry is worse than communism” (p. 359). Ignatius puts on his pirate outfit that includes an earring, and his mother keeps hitting him as he runs out of the house. Ignatius practices his speech in the back seat of a taxi.


Dorian’s 17th century French house has been redecorated, painted a bright yellow. Ignatius despises the bad taste. Dorian tells him the party has already gotten out of hand with everyone in costume letting their hair down. Ignatius observes the wild behavior and meets the three women in “the ladies’ auxiliary” (p. 371), Frieda, Betty, and Liz, the lesbians that were in the newspaper article. Dorian keeps humoring Ignatius’s belief that he is starting a new political party. Ignatius turns off the record player and addresses the crowd who comment on his outfit. They ignore him and start dancing again. Just then, Timmy asks Ignatius to dance. He won’t so the lesbians throw him out. All Ignatius can say is “Fortuna, that vicious slut” (p. 383).


Ignatius goes to the Night of Joy to see Darlene’s act, while a man in a silk suit is following him. Jones is out front acting as a barker to get people in the bar. When Darlene comes on stage the cockatoo heads for Ignatius’s hunting hat. It rips the earring out of his ear. Ignatius falls on the floor knocking over tables. He runs out of the bar into the path of a bus. Jones saves him. The man in the silk suit (Mancuso) comes forward and identifies him. Just then Lana comes out and shows Mancuso the pornographic photo of herself, propositioning him. He arrests her.


Commentary on Chapter Twelve


Mancuso’s Wheel of Fortune finally goes up as Ignatius’s goes down. Mancuso hung in there, even against the odds to keep his job on the police force. Instead of wearing stupid costumes to pose as an undercover agent, he uses his own money to buy expensive clothes, and this works, as Lana assumes he is a rich tourist.


Ignatius’s old girlfriend warns him he is on the edge of a breakdown with his ideas for a gay political party.  At the present time, gay rights activists are a serious political reality, but in the late sixties, the notion was ahead of its time. Toole plays with the stereotypes of all these groups in the spirit of satire. He makes the gay community look hedonistic, only interested in costumes and decorations, as he had shown blacks just interested in jazz and singing spirituals. All marginal groups, empowered since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, are now taken more seriously as having their own political interests and organizing power.


Ignatius has two more outrageous comic scenes at the gay party and at the strip bar, ending in his crashing with a bus. His mother is clearly hysterical about his behavior and tells him outright he is a candidate for the mental institution. Ignatius brings up the point that there is a fine line between the sane and insane in modern society. Who should be inside, and who should be outside? This is a political question sometimes. 


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