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LitExCoverLetter

SophiaHampton
APLitP.4
1/12/14

Yellowismynewfavoritecolorbecauseitsthecolorofmyhighlightedchanges.AsI
lookovermyLitEx,andIseeallthepretty,happyyellow,ImprettysatisfiedwithalltheworkI
putintomyfinaldraft.UsuallywhenIrewritethings,Ireadtheteacherscommentsandmake
anefforttoputinthechanges.However,whenIrewrotemyLitExInotonlymadeaneffort,but
Ididabackwardsoutline.Thebackwardsoutlinehelpedsomuch.IsawwhatIwasmissing,and
whyextendingmyanalysiswassoimportantincertainplaces.Itwaslikecreatinga
fillintheblankpuzzleandallIhadtodowhatputinthemissingpieces.ImightevensayIkind
ofhadfunrewritingmyLitExbecauseitwaslikeapuzzle.
IreworkedmythesistoreflectideasIhadputintheconclusion.Allofmyadditionswere
thenaboutmenotonlytyingmyanalysistogether,butrelatingitbacktomythesis.I
strengthenedsomeofmyparagraphsbymakingsuretheywereconsistentwithmyreworked
thesisandconclusion.TheparagraphIhadthemosttroublewithwastheoneaboutMr.Levy
becauseIcouldntfigureouthowtoproperlysynthesizeitall,butwiththehelpofthebackwards
outlineitcametogether.Ialsohadtroubleincorporatingmyilluminatingtext,whichIendedup
justmakingaseparateparagraph.NowthatIthinkaboutit,Iwouldhavelikedtohave
synthesizedmyilluminatingtextmorethroughoutthepaper.
IfIhadntdoneabackwardsoutlineIthinktherewriteprocesswouldhavebeensomuch
moredifficult.Thanksforthat!

SophiaHampton
Herzog
APLit4
12/11/14

TheConfederacyofHypocrites
Whenthepotcallsthekettleblack,peoplerealizetheironyofthesituationbecauseitis
generallyunderstoodthatthepotisalsoblack.IntheTheConfederacyofDunes,byJohn
KennedyToole,nosuchrealizationexists.WalkerPercy,whopublishedandwrotethe
introductionforTheConfederacy,callsthebooksaddespiteitscomedicsuccess,thoughhe
neverquiteknowswherethesadnesscomesfrom(Percyix).Thebook,whichisacritiqueof
ordinarysocietysshortcomings,centersaroundIgnatiusJ.Reilly,apretentious,lazy,slob,
whosemiserable,grotesquelifeonlygetsworsebythepage.Thedisappointinglackof
redemptionforthemaincharactergreatlycontributestothisunderlyingsadnessthatPercypoints
out.IgnatiusalsobecomesToolesmainvehicleforconveyinghiscritique.Itisthroughthe
characterizationofIgnatiusandhisinteractionswithhissociety,thatTheConfederacyillustrates
aphenomenoninwhichapersonsoutwardjudgementsbecomeamirrorforonesinternalflaws.
Ignatius,aproductofthisculture,becomesametonymforallsocietysshortcomingswithhis
hypocriticalignorance,thusstrengtheningToolesargumentagainstafundamentalflawin
peoplesinclinationtobehypocritical,oblivious,andasaresult,perpetuallydissatisfied.
Throughtheuseofathirdpersonomniscientnarrator,thereaderlearnsthatthewayin
whichIgnatiuspresentshimselftotheworldisadeliberatechoicehemakesinordertoreject
modernity.Ignatiusdressescomfortablyandsensiblywhilehelooksdownuponthosewho
aredressedinanythingneworexpensive(Toole1).Thoughthewordchoicealonesuggests
Ignatiusisoffendedbythepeoplearoundhimassensiblyisdirectlycontrastedwith
expensive,thenarratorscommentaryallowsthereadertomakefurtherinsights.Ignatius

chooseshisoutfitinordertosuggestarichinnerlifewhichshowsthatIgnatiusmadethe
choicetodressinacertainwaywiththeassumptionthatpeoplewouldcareabouthowhelooks
(1).ThoughIgnatius'sreasoningisreversed,thisideaisquitesimilartowhatheiscondemning
asshallow:theaffectednaturebywhichpeoplechoosetobuynewandexpensiveclothing
becausetheywanttolookgood.TooleusesIgnatiustopointouthowmaterialisticsocietyis,as
isunderstoodfromIgnatiussthoughts,butwiththeuseofanarratorthereaderlearnsIgnatiusis
justasmaterialistic.Theirony,andconsequentlyhypocriticalsituation,isthatIgnatiusputsjust
asmuch,ifnotmore,thoughtintothewayhelooks.Byusinganarratorratherthanthefirst
persontogivefurtherinsightonIgnatiussthoughts,hishypocrisyisilluminatedthroughathird
partywhichgivesmorecredibilitytothestoryandlesstoIgnatius.Ifthebookweretoldonly
fromIgnatiussownpointofview,thereadermightnotrecognizethattheflawsofsocietyare
alsoembodiedinIgnatius.ThenarratorservesadeliberatepurposethatallowsforIgnatiustobe
thesubjectofToolescritiquewhileIgnatiussimultaneouslydoesthesametothosearoundhim.
Becausethisisonthefirstpageofthebook,apatternissetfortherestofthenovel,andanyflaw
thatIgnatiusjudgesinsocietyhaveadirectcounterpartinhimself.
Ignatiussdeliberaterejectionoftheworldaroundhimisevidencedbytherepetitive
symbolismofhispyloricvalve,whichwhencontrastedwithdescriptionsofhowhespendshis
timebecomesanexampleofhisfundamentalhypocrisy.Thereaderisfirstintroducedto
Ignatiussvalvewhenhismotheraskshimtogetajob.Immediately,Ignatiusgroansandthe
valvecloses,whichhesaysmakesitimpossibleforhimtogetupandfindajob.Hismothersees
throughhishistrionicsandprotests,nobodyelsegothimavalvebutyou.Iaintgotnovalve,
butthismakesadisappointingimpactbecauseIgnatiussvalvecontinuestobearecurring
excusethroughoutthebook(Toole48).EverytimeasituationarisesinwhichIgnatiusis

supposedtoparticipateinasocietalconvention,suchastakingpublictransportationorengaging
insmalltalk,hemakesacommentabouthisvalveclosing.Thevalvebecomeshisexcusetonot
dealwiththeworld,butbynotgettingajobordoinganythingtotakecareofhimself,Ignatiusis
demandingthattheworldherejectstakecareofhim.Inaddition,hedoespartakeinsociety,but
againisblindtohisownhypocrisy.ThroughoutthebookIgnatiusoftengoestoseecartoonsand
healludestothemfrequently.Batmanisaparticularfavoriteofhisbecausehetranscendsthe
abysmalsocietyinwhich[hehasfoundhimself]in(255).Batmanhowever,wouldhavebeen
consideredapieceofpopcultureatthetimeandthusanotherexampleofIgnatiussfailed
attemptsatexcludinghimselffromasocietyhesupposedlydisapprovesof.Hisvalveand
BatmanarebothsymbolsthatcomedirectlyfromIgnatius,buttheirsupposedpurposearein
directcontrastwitheachother.TherepetitionofthesesymbolsservestounderscoreIgnatiuss
consistentlackofgrowthasacharacterwhocannotrecognizehisowncontradictorybehavior.
ThelackofgrowthinIgnatiusisratherdisappointingbecauseasamaincharacter,areadermight
expectmore,howeveraswiththerestofthebookscontent,Toolemakesitclearthelackof
growthisadeliberatecritiqueonsocietyscontinualinabilitytorecognizetheirownflaws.
HypocriticalignorancenotonlyrendersIgnatiussmainargumentagainstmaterialism
andwealthinvalid,butthroughcharacterinteractionsitalsobecomesclearhisfallaciesare
standinginthewayofhissuccess.Ignatiususesthewordsnewandexpensivetodescribe
somethinghecondemnsbecausethosetwowordsencapsulatetheverythingsIgnatiusproclaims
todespise:modernityandexcessivewealth.Ignatiusbelievesthatbypartakinginanythingthat
wouldsupportthosetwoconceptsisultimatelyverydamagingtothesoul(1).ThoughIgnatius
mayseematerialismasasignofbadcharacter,throughoutthebookitbecomesclearthathealso
hasnoredeemablequalities.WhatIgnatiusidentifiesasasourceofsocietysshortcomings

becomesafutilediscoverybecausehehimselfisadamagedsoulevenwithoutpartakinginthe
excessivewealththathedespises.InordertofurtherundermineIgnatiussantimodernityand
antiwealthargument,Tooleillustratescharacterswhoare,infact,poorandsuppressedby
modernsociety.Forexample,IgnatiusinteractswithBurmaJones,apoorblackmanwhotells
Ignatius,Iwannagetsomeplace,man.Whoa!Iwantmeaaircondition,somecolorTV,sit
aroundrinkinsomethinbetterthanbeer.Airconditioning,acolorTV,andfancyliquorare
symbolsofwealththatareunattainabletoJones,yetheisnohappierwithoutthem.Ignatiusfails
toseetheholeinhisargument,however,andcharacteristicallyrejectsJones.Thoughhecould
havetakenthisasanopportunitytohelpJonesseehowhecouldbenefitfrombeingfreeof
materialism,Ignatiusjustscoffsathimandnoprogressismade(Toole254).WithJones,Toole
illustratesthatthoughIgnatiusseessomesortofflawinsocietysobsessionwithmaterialism,he
iswrongtoassumetheabsenceofmoneyisasolutiontofulfillinganauthenticallyhappylife.In
addition,theideathatwealthcanleadtounhappinessisnotwhatTooleissayingisproblematic.
InHenryDavidThoureausWalden,Thoreaustatesthemassofmenleadalifeofquiet
desperationandthatthedesperationderivesfrommaterialism.Thisisalmostcomparableto
Ignatiushowever,thedifferencebetweenThoreauandIgnatiusisthatThoreauliveswhathe
writesandIgnatiusisjustahypocrite(McCluskey9).BurmaJonesrefusestoaccepthislifeand
consistentlywishesheweresomeoneelseandIgnatiusfailstorecognizehisownflaws,while
judgingtheminsociety.Inconjunction,thesetwounhappycharactersshowhowtheargumentis
neitheraboutmoney,normodernity,buthowinordertobesuccessful,oneneedstobehonest
withoneself.
ThefrequentallusionstoTheConsolationofPhilosophybyBoethiusalsosupport
ToolescreationofafundamentallyobliviouscharacterbecauseIgnatiussownphilosophyisthe

productofamajormisconception.Ignatiusbelieveshimselftobeenlightenedandhisarguments
validcritiquesofthefaultshesees.However,hisinterpretationofhisfavoritebook,The
Consolation,whichheusestovalidatehisjudgements,iswrong.Thisprovidesaflawed
foundationforhisreasoning,allowingTooletoundermineIgnatiusinordercontributetohis
largerargumentagainstsocietalignorance.ThesignificanceoftheTheConsolationforIgnatius
isrootedintheideathatheidentifieswiththeauthorandthesubjectofthebook.Thoughhe
recognizesthatthebookteachesustoacceptthatwhichwecannotchange,hehimselfdoesnot
dothis(Toole160).Ignatiusoffersthesewordstoafriendwhenhecomplainsofhardships,but
Ignatiusisunabletoacceptanythingthatcauseshimselfhardship.Forexample,whenIgnatiusis
accusedofcommittingforgery,insteadofadmittingfault,hesimplydeniesit.Inadditiontohis
denial,healsoblamesitonhisfriendwhoisthenfired(Toole336).Ignatiusfailstoexemplify
thenoblephilosophyofTheConsolationdespitehisvocaleffortstodoso(Boethius).The
discrepancybetweenhiswordsandhisactionsprovideanotherlevelofIgnatiusshypocritical
andunreliablebehaviorthatdevalueIgnatiussargumentandstrengthenTooles.
ToolecontinuesIgnatiussdiscrepantbehaviorwiththeuseofhisnarratorandshifting
pointsofviewthatilluminateastrongdisagreementbetweenhowIgnatiusseeshimselfand
reality.ThisisevidencedasIgnatiusissimultaneouslypretentiousandslobbish.Heseeshimself
asacontemplativegeniusashewriteshisindictmentsagainstthecentury(Toole6),buthe
isseenbyothers,andconsequentlybyreality,asabeastandcarrierofmisfortune(Leighton
204).Toolesuseofthethirdpersonnarratoriseffectiveinallowingthereadertoseethis
discrepancy.Shiftingpointsofviewinthebookalsostrengthenthisbecausethereader
understandshowotherpeoplethatareclosetoIgnatius,seehim.Thosewhoareinhispresence
seehimasanawfulcreature,hugething,andterribleanimal(Toole248249).Theideaof

Ignatiusbeingacarrierofmisfortuneeclipseshiscontemplativegeniusperceptionbecause
hehasalreadyestablishedhimselfasanunreliablesourcewithhisconsistenthypocrisyand
flawedphilosophy.IgnatiuscoupledwiththeothercharactersinthebookrevealTooleslarger
messageaboutconsequencesofnotstayingtruetooneself.Thecharactersinthebookhave
largelynegativeopinionsofIgnatius,despitehisdelusionalopinionofhimself,andultimately,
Ignatiusfailstoaccomplishmuchanythingthroughoutthebookbecauseofthislackofsupport.
ThefallacieswhichdefineIgnatiusstrengthenToolesmainargumentaboutthewholeof
societybecausethroughthecharacterizationofIgnatiusandhismother,hemakesitclearthat
Ignatiusshypocrisyisaproductofthissociety.Ignatiusproclaimstohismotherthatheisinthe
midstofwritingalengthyindictmentagainst[his]centurybecausehestronglyopposes
modernsociety(Toole6).Inadiatribeagainstsuburbanfamilies,however,Ignatiussinherent
hypocrisyisrevealed.Hedescribeshisstrangeideaofasuburbanfamily,wherechildrenare
eagerlychainedbytheirmothers,andfathersarechainedbytheirchildren,andeveryone
endsupinchains(313).Ignatiushatessuburbanfamiliesbecausehebelievesthemto
exemplifymodernsociety,howeverhehimselfistheproductofasuburbanfamily.This
awarenessoftheconstrictiveforcesthatoftenbindfamiliestogetherisevidentinIgnatiuss
dialogue,howeverthroughoutthebookbemakesnoefforttochangethesituationheisin(Clark
278).Hisinabilitytorecognizehisownridiculousdependenceasa26yearoldmanstillliving
withhismotherexemplifiesIgnatiusslimitsasacharacter.Theemphasisofhisdependenceon
acommonsuburbanmotherallowsTooletocritiquethewholeofsocietybecauseitallowsa
majorityofreaderstoidentifywithIgnatius.Inaddition,Ignatiussmotherhighlightshis
immaturitybecause,thoughheisagrown,educatedmanhestillactslikeachildbybeing
obnoxiouslystubborn.Whenhismotheraskshimtogetajob,shesuggestshetryworkingasa

policeman(48).Heopposes.Thisispeculiarbecauseapolicemanenforcesthelawandmakes
surepeoplebehave,somethingthatareadermightthinkIgnatiuswouldenjoy.Assomeonewho
iswritinganindictmentagainsthiscenturyhecouldusepolicingasanopportunitytogethis
ideasingrainedinsociety.Instead,IgnatiusironicallygetsajobatLevyPants,aclothing
company,whichisanexampleoftheveryinstitutionIgnatiuswouldindictagainst.Aclothing
companyisrootedinconsumerismandisthebasisformaterialism.Thus,therelationship
betweenIgnatiusandhismotherischaracterizedbyhismothersuggestingsomethingshe
believeshersonmightenjoy,hisrefusal,andthenhisensuinghypocrisy.Thesourceofhis
hypocriticalbehaviorisindeliblylinkedtohismother,andhismotherisportrayedasasymbol
ofmodernsociety.Thislinkiscrucialinestablishingsocietyasacausefortheunfortunate
characterofIgnatius.
AfoilbetweenIgnatiusandMr.LevyhighlightsIgnatiussownperpetualdissatisfaction
andlackofdevelopment,andthuscompletesToolesargumentthatsocietysunhappinessresults
fromtheirstubbornness.Mr.LevyistheownerofLevyPants,whoinheritedthecompanyfrom
hisfather,atwhichIgnatiusworkedforafewmonths.Mr.LevyandIgnatiusbothhave
relationshipstocharacterswhoconstrictthem:Ignatiustohismother,andMr.Levytohiswife
Mrs.Levy.AsMrs.LevyisalwaysnaggingMr.Levytotakeresponsibilityforhiscompany,
IgnatiussmotherdoesthesametoIgnatiusabouthislife.WhileIgnatiuscontinuesonhissame
irresponsiblepath,suddenlyMr.Levyshifts.Mr.Levy,whospendsthemajorityofthebook
unhappybecausehateshiscompanybecausehehateshisfather,decidestomakeachange.He
changesthecompanytoLevyShortsand[smiles]inwardlyforthefirsttime.Mr.Levysshift
ispronouncedthroughapointofviewchangetoMrs.Levy.Mrs.Levywhopreviouslythought
herhusbandtobeadisappointment,issurprisedandthinks,GusLevyoperatingacompany?

GusLevydominant?(Toole375).Incontrast,Ignatiusmakesnoefforttochange,nordoeshe
everrealizehisproblems.WhenhismotherattemptstohaveIgnatiusinstitutionalizedinthelast
chapter,insteadofacceptingthatheneedshelp,afriendcomesandhelpshimescapeandrun
awayfromhisproblems.Hislackofdevelopmentasacharacterishighlightedwhenhebeginsto
talkabouthisvalveandhisfriendremarksthatheisstillhisoldhorribleself(393).By
creatingonecharacterwhofindshappiness,TooleshowshowflawedIgnatiusandtherestof
societyis.Mr.Levyfoundhispeacebygoingagainstsocietyandchanginghisestablished,
respectedcompany.Ignatiusneverwaversfromhisfaultyphilosophy,andthebookendswithno
shiftfromthemaincharacter.TheentirelypredictablebehaviorofIgnatiusmirrorsthatof
societyspredictablebehavior,andshowshowitisnotenoughtomerelyrecognizeaproblem,
butanattemptatchangeisnecessarytoo.
Asthepotcallsthekettleblack,Ignatiuscallssocietyhopeless.Ignatiusandhis
worldviewthenbecomeinstrumentalinToolescritiqueofmodernsociety.Theconsistent
underminingofIgnatiussphilosophydoesnotdetractfromToolesargumentbutinstead
strengthensitbecauseIgnatiusisaproductofthisflawedsociety.Ignatiussblatantlackof
awarenesstowardshiscontradictoryapproachinlifeisalsotheresultofhissocietalinfluences.
DescriptionsofrelationshipsthatdamageIgnatiusscredibilitybothshowIgnatiussoblivion
andhowhisultimateredemptionisimpossiblebecausehisworldissimilarlyoblivious.
However,allhopeisnotlostwiththeinclusionofMr.LevybecauseTooleshowsthereaderthat
inordertobetrulysatisfiedwithoneslife,honestyandchangearenecessarybutalsopossible.
Inotherwords,potsaroundtheworldneedtorecognizetheyareblack,andthenturnwhite.

WorksCited
Boethius,Ancius.TheConsolationofPhilosophy.Trans.VictorWatts.Rev.ed.London:
Penguin,1999.Print.
Clark,WilliamBedford."AllToole'sChildren:AReadingOfAConfederacyOf
Dunces."EssaysInLiterature14.2(1987):269280.LiteraryReferenceCenter.Web.10Nov.
2014.
Leighton,H.Vernon."TheDialecticOfAmericanHumanism:JohnKennedyToole'sA
ConfederacyOfDunces,MarsilioFicino,AndPaulOskarKristeller."Renascence64.2
(2012):200215.LiteraryReferenceCenter.Web.10Nov.2014.
McCluskey,PeterM.SellingSoulsandVendingParadise:GodandCommerceinA
ConfederacyofDunces.SouthernQuarterly47.1(2009):722.
Percy,Walker."Foreword."Foreword.TheConfederacyofDunces.ByJohnKennedyToole.
NewYork:Grove,1987.viiix.Print.
Toole,JohnKennedy.AConfederacyofDunces.NewYork:Grove,1980.Print.

LitExGradingRubric
Name_________________________

_____Thesisclearlyencapsulatesaspecific,provableargument.
_____Paperislogicallyorganizedtopersuasivelymakeyourargument.
_____Conclusionsummarizesandaddsinsightwithoutbeingrepetitive.
_____Eachpointisthoughtfulandsupportedwithwellchosenevidencefromyourtext,
criticism,and/orilluminatingtext.
_____Quotesareblendedandcited.
_____MLAformatisfollowed,includingforWorksCitedpage.
_____Languageisclear,concise,andprecisetoneisscholarly.
_____Paperiswelleditedforgrammarandmechanics.

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