A Confederacy of Dunces: Chapter 7

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Summary of Chapter Seven

Paradise Vendors, Inc., is a hot dog company housed in a former auto repair shop. Ignatius walks by as he is job hunting and is attracted by the smell of the boiling hot dogs. Ignatius buys a hot dog from the old man, Mr. Clyde.  After four hot dogs, the man offers him a job as a hot dog vendor. Ignatius is forced into complying since he owes the man money.  He is given a uniform and a cart.

He dares not go home anyway because his mother is pushing him to go to work. She tells him about Patrolman Mancuso who has become ill at the bus station. Ignatius had given him a copy of Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy to read in the bus bathroom. He says the philosopher’s message is to accept what one cannot change.

As Ignatius pushes the cart on the street, he begins eating all the hot dogs in the cart. The orphan George is wandering around with the packages from Lana Lee; he tries to buy a hot dog from Ignatius who refuses, wanting to save them for himself. Ignatius convinces himself that George is trying to rob him and jams the cart into his crotch. He returns to the owner and says he has been robbed of the hot dogs. The owner convinces him to return the next day to continue the job.

At the Night of Joy, Jones begins his sabotage by leaving ridges of dirt on the floor he is supposed to sweep. When Lana criticizes the dirt, he says he needs more money to get rid of all the dirt. Lana puts chalk and a globe of the world into a locked safe. Now all she needs is a book; she will ask George to get her one. These are props for her project. Darlene comes in with her cockatoo to practice her dance. The bird is supposed to grab some rings on her clothes and pull them off. Jones supports the terrible act because it is more sabotage.

Irene Reilly calls Santa on the phone to tell her the awful news: Ignatius has become a hot dog vendor! Santa tells her her nephew’s bad news: he is getting pneumonia from the bus station. Santa decides she is going to fix up Irene with the old man who is interested in her. She needs a man around the house.

Ignatius is happy about the hot dog job because he will be able to loiter in the streets. Meanwhile he gets a letter from Myrna explaining her new public lectures on sex and politics. The letter is several pages long and details her relationship with an activist boy. She tries to persuade him to come to New York so he can get over his paranoia. She wonders if he still is engaged in his Divine Rights Movement to restore the divine rule of kings. They need a three-party system, after all. He writes back that he is not interested in her sleazy personal life.


Commentary on Chapter Seven

The Wheel of Fortune seems to have spun Ignatius to the bottom as a hot dog vendor. Even Mr. Clyde tells Ignatius, “Nobody respects a hot dog vendor” (p. 184). Mrs. Reilly is in actual grief over this humiliation. It does seem to point to a serious breakdown in Ignatius’s personality when he refuses to sell the hot dogs but rather, consumes them all himself. Ignatius keeps trying to bring high culture to society. He tells both Mr. Clyde and Mancuso about Boethius. When Mr. Clyde whistles “Turkey in the Straw” Ignatius insists he is whistling Scarlatti. The plot thickens at the Night of Joy with Jones actively trying to sabotage Lana Lee’s business. There is a mystery about what she is selling to the children. Jones delivers a very moving speech to Lana about his low wages. He tells her how hard it is for the colored people to buy groceries; they even buy their cigarettes one at a time. Lana Lee appears to be very hard-hearted as far as Jones or other people are concerned. The letter from Myrna with its emphasis on politics and social rights contrasts to Lana’s selfish point of view. Myrna is blunt about Ignatius’s sexual problems, and with his isolation and paranoia, which she thinks can be fixed with a little sex. She seems to take him seriously; however, his political views are far beyond right-wing, The divine right of kings was a political philosophy of the Middle Ages, in which power was seen as a hereditary matter, believed to be given to kings and their heirs by God. Though Myrna and Ignatius insult each other in their letters, it is obvious that they like one another. Ignatius seems to be influenced by nobody else but Boethius and Myrna.

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