Explore the Significance of Crime Elements in this extract of American Psycho. Remember to include relevant detailed analysis of the ways that Easton Ellis has shaped meanings.
American Psycho is written in first person which tells us that the narrator, Patrick Bateman - a psycho serial killer, is unreliable. He is also a Wall Street trader which is a likely contributing factor as to why he is a ‘psycho’ – the stress of working as a stockbroker in the 1990’s was a very stressful job and was dangerous for the brokers’ mental stability.
In this extract, the main crime elements which are prevalent are the build up of suspense/tension, murder and violence, and deceit. There is a constant motif of the narrator being compared to a form of nature which is untameable, whether this is in the form of a volcano or predatory animal. Thus, the elements of crime are quite significant in this extract of American Psycho
The build up of suspense is an important element of crime fiction and we feel the suspense from the very first line of this extract. Bateman says “During the nights I have been sleeping in twenty-minute intervals.” The narrator’s lack of sleep shows that he’s not in a right state of mind and makes us question his reliability. It almost sounds mechanical, in that he’s no longer human, and he’s a machine that switches on and off at exactly twenty minute ‘intervals’, like an alarm clock being constantly put on snooze . It is foreshadowing of his inhumane actions and lack of emotion and remorse – he doesn’t have any, just as a machine. This is building suspense because in just the first line, we can sense that something’s not right. Our questioning of the narrator’s reliability is immediately confirmed in the next sentence where Bateman says “I feel aimless...my homicidal compulsion, which surfaces [and] disappears..., lies barely dormant...” From this quote it is clear that Bateman is a killer who is very unstable mentally. This builds even more tension and fear in the reader because we know he is going to kill. From the adjective ‘dormant’ it is almost as if he’s a volcano waiting to explode and cause lots of harm and kill people. We question his reliability because when a character is clearly so destroyed in his mind, it is hard to trust them even if they do sound honest by speaking about the way they feel. It is also symbolic of the fact that Ellis is trying to portray this character as untameable as nature and this builds up tension and suspense as we are now anticipating when Bateman ‘explodes’ and kills the child. Ellis uses this slow build up of tension has shaped the pathway to the murder. Thus, crime elements are significant in this extract because the element of suspense is apparent here, foreshadowing and building up to the murder.
Murder and violence is also a very important element of crime fiction and it is the climax of this extract. The murder is swift as Bateman narrates “...I stab him, quickly, in the neck.” The deed itself is done...