A Confederacy of Dunces: Chapter 14
Summary of Chapter Fourteen
Ignatius spends the day in his room nervously napping. His mother will not look at him or talk to him. He is worried about being taken to trial. He is angry at everyone, especially Myrna Minkoff. How could his mother marry an “aged fascist”? (p. 445) Mrs. Reilly contemplates Ignatius’s possibly having to go to jail. She only knows one way to save him: commit him to a hospital.
She speaks to Ignatius, saying she is going to take care of him; he should not worry. She says she loves him and goes out to make arrangements. Ignatius figures out his mother’s plan and wants to escape. Just as he leaves the house, there is Myrna on his porch! “Fortuna had relented” (p. 452), he sighs with relief. He is affectionate to her and says, “We must leave immediately. I must go flower in Manhatttan” (p. 453). He pretends he wants to go to a motel to make love. She has come to rescue him. He gets his Big Chief tablets and lute and they pull out in her Renault just as the hospital ambulance comes to the house.
Ignatius wonders: “Now that Fortuna had saved him from one cycle, where would she spin him now”? (p. 461).
Commentary on Chapter Fourteen
Saved in the nick of time! Myrna’s arrival, though a bit fantastic, keeps the story in the comic mode, as we wonder what damage Ignatius could do in Manhattan with Myrna as a partner. There is no resolution or recognition on his part, which makes him a comic picaresque hero who has one adventure after another without learning anything. The comic scenes, along with Levy’s understanding and forgiveness at the end, save the story from becoming ugly. Ignatius is an outsider, a misfit, and he walks a thin line of tolerance. How much will others take from him? He reaches the saturation point in one location and has to move on.