A Confederacy of Dunces: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. “Possessions of anything new or expensive only reflected a person’s lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one’s soul” (Chpt. 1, p.1).Ignatius is watching shoppers in New Orleans, “studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste” (p. 1). He is disgusted by the materialism he sees around him, especially when compared to the theology and geometry, or the serious learning, sense of proportion, and spiritual orientation of the Middle Ages, his own worldview.
  2. “Oh, Fortuna, blind, heedless goddess, I am strapped to your wheel,” Ignatius belched (Chapt. 2, p. 35).Ignatius is constantly afflicted by gas and bad digestion, and here is pleading, as he frequently does, with the Roman goddess Fortune who turned individuals on her wheel of fortune for good or ill, blindly, as she chose. Ignatius fervently believes he is the plaything of Fortuna, as the medieval philosopher Boethius said in his The Consolation of Philosophy.
  3. “I would very much like to know what the Founding Fathers would say if they could see these children being debauched to further the cause of Clearasil. However, I always suspected that democracy would come to this” (Chpt. 2, p. 49).Every day Ignatius watches “American Bandstand” on TV and acts disgusted by the dancing. He connects their loose behavior to commercial motives and casts doubt upon the true purpose of democracy. He prefers monarchy and the divine right of kings as a more worthy form of government.
  4. “There was something magnetic about Miss Trixie’s area. It attracted whatever refuse there was in the office” (Chpt. 3, p. 77).Miss Trixie is one of the Dickensian characters at Levy Pants whose dementia accounts for the chaos and inefficiency of the place.
  5. “You know I appreciate you, babe,” Mrs. Reilly sniffed. “Come on and gimme a little goodbye kiss like a good boy” (Chpt. 5, p. 138).Irene Reilly speaks to her thirty-year-old son as if he is a little boy. They have a difficult relationship because she wants him to work like an adult but she spoils him like a child. Toole renders the mother’s speech in the Yat dialect of New Orleans.
  6. “If I were a Negro, I would not be pressured by my mother to find a good job, for no good job would be available” (Chpt. 5, p. 145).Ignatius confides this to his Journal of a Working Boy. He thinks of himself as a marginal person like a Negro. His comment, showing his dubious logic, is a satiric comment on racial inequality.
  7. “Hey! I’m workin in modren slavery. If I quit, I get report for bein vagran. If I stay, I’m gainfully employ on a salary ain even startin to be a minimal wage” (Chpt. 6, p. 155).Jones complains about his working conditions at Lana Lee’s bar, Night of Joy, to Mr. Watson.
  8. “ Sign now and save America from sexual ignorance, chastity, and fear” (Chpt. 7, p. 207).Myrna Minkoff sends Ignatius a poster for one of her lectures on Sex in Politics in New York. She wants people to sign a petition for better sex for all and send it to Washington.
  9. “Maybe your boy went to school too long,” Mr. Robichaux advised. “They got plenty communiss in them colleges” (Chpt. 8, p. 238).Claude Robichaux, Irene’s suitor, tries to comfort her about Ignatius, explaining he probably got his strange ideas at college where there are lots of communists.
  10. “Dorian,” the cowboy pleaded in a lyric soprano. “Make him keep quiet. We were having such fun, such a grand, gay time. Oh, he’s not even amusing”  (Chpt. 12, p. 377).Encouraged by Dorian Greene, Ignatius tries to lecture and form a gay political organization at a costume party where the gay and lesbian participants find him depressing and beg Dorian to throw him out.

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