John Fante Ask the Dust
In the novel Ask the Dust by John Faint, the mall character, Arturo Banding, lacks the ability to have a true and sincere Identity. He traveled to California In hopes of becoming a successful writer. Rotator’s journey to become a successful white American male fuels his hypocritical and contradicting lifestyle.
His move to California influenced his self attitude, racial viewpoints, and perspective towards love. Arturo has a very strange relationship with women, whether It be Vera, Camilla, or a random women on the streets.
Arturo develops an attraction towards Camilla, a Mexican-American women who he finds faintly attractive, “With a Amman nose, flat with large nostrils. Her lips were heavily rouged, with the thickness of a Negroes’ lips. She was a racial type, and as such she was beautiful, but she was too strange for me” (Faint 34). Arturo starts off saying how lovely she is but then contradicts himself by saying she is too strange. One minute Arturo is happy with Camilla and the next his Is cursing her off under his breath. Foe call me beautiful at home, then you are ashamed to be seen with me In public. You are ashamed of beauty you recognize hat no one else does. You are ashamed to love me! ” (Faint) Camilla recognizes that Arturo is unaware of how he feels and she confronts him about it. He hates the feeling of lust that she gives him so he runs to church to “cleanse” himself. Arturo is incapability of having true feelings towards a women stems from the fact that he is unsure of what love is. “By the all desire that had not come a while before… T pounded my skull and tingled my fingers. I threw myself on the bed and tore the pillow”. (Faint) Arturo can not control the way he feels and due to that he becomes hypocritical and introduction to love. “She was forcing it with her scorn, the kiss she gave me, the hard curl of her lips, the mockery of her eyes, until I was like a man made of wood and there was no feeling within me except terror and a fear of her, a sense that her beauty was too much, that she was so much more beautiful than l, deeper rooted than l.
She made me a stranger unto myself, she was all of those calm nights and tall eucalyptus trees, the desert stars, that land and sky, that fog outside, and I had come there with no purpose save to be a mere writer, to get money, to make a name for yeses and all that piffle. She was so much finer than l, so much more honest, that I was sick of myself and I could not look at her warm eyes, I suppressed the shiver brought on by her brown arms around my neck and the long fingers In my hair. I did not kiss her. She kissed me, author of The Little Dog Laughed. Then she took my wrist with her two hands.
She pressed her lips Into the palm of my hand. She placed my hand upon her bosom between her breasts. She turned her lips towards my face and waited. And Arturo Banding, the great author dipped deep into his colorful imagination, romantic Arturo Banding, Just chock-full of clever phrases, and he said, weakly, kittenishly, ‘Hello. ” (Faint) Throughout the whole novel Arturo talks to himself and contradicts all of the feelings he has towards love or Camilla and also towards himself. Sadly due to Rotator’s lack of understand meet he ruins anything he could Arturo Banding thinks very highly of himself.
Arturo likes to put on “performances” to show that he is better than everyone else. He is very arrogant with his performances and proclamations. Arturo will walk around with copies of his published story; The Little Dog Laughed. He goes around thinking that he is a well known writer and everyone should worship him like he worships his editor; Hackett. Arturo can not seem to find himself and who he really is until the end of the novel. When Arturo gets money his whole attitude and “performance” changes, he acts like a rich white American male.
He starts to walk around with his head held high and Just throwing money away like it is no big deal. Arturo wanted an expensive beer and he orders one from Camilla. Camilla says “it’s expensive, forty cents” (Faint, 61) and she seems to have concern for him. She knows that he doesn’t make a lot of money and if he does it is Just a lucky check from Hackett. He blows right through the money and Camilla evens warns him saying he should not spend his money like that after buying the two bartenders forty cent beers.
He seems to not ever believe in a god or religion but he will go and write a letter to his mother telling her to pray for him and that he is praying for her. “Remember me to Him and give all and shiniest in the skies” (Faint 104) Arturo sends in the letter to his mother and we know that this is not the way Arturo acts. Arturo strives to be meeting he is not, a famous rich writer that everyone knows. Sadly that will not happen for him due to his hypocritical attitudes and unsure attitude towards himself.
Deep down we can tell that he is not satisfied with his life and contradicts everything he says. Arturo bashes on anyone who is not full blooded American, like Camilla. Arturo is not even a full blooded American, he is Italian. Arturo enters the hotel he wants to live at and the lady at the desk is also very racist and makes sure that he is neither “a Mexican or a Jew’. Not even Just Arturo has his racial Judgments, everyone in the own does. “A cop won’t pick you up for vagrancy in Los Angels if you wear a fancy polo shirt and a pair of sunglasses.
But if there is dust on your shoes and that sweater you wear is thick like the sweaters they wear in the snow countries, he’ll grab you. So get yourself a polo shirt boys, and a pair of sunglasses, and white shoes, if you can” is advise Arturo is giving anybody who is not of American decent. When he was younger he was called a “spice and greaser” and did not like it, but then he goes and calls Camilla the same thing. “And Camilla, when I said “greaser” to you, it was to my heart that spoke, but the quivering of an old wound. And I am ashamed of the terrible thing I have done. (Faint 7) Deep down Arturo knows that what he had said was horrible and he should not have said that because he has true feelings for her even though she is Mexican. “When I was a kid, back in Colorado, it was Smith, Parker and Jones who hurt me with their hideous names. Who called me whop and Dagon and greaser, and their children hurt me. Just as I hurt you. They hurt me so much, I could never become one of them. Drove me to books, drove me within myself. Drove me to UN away from that town in Colorado, into your home and into your life.
And sometimes, when I see their faces out here, the same faces, the same sad, hard mouths from my hometown. I’m glad they’re here fulfilling the emptiness of their lives and dying in the sun. And they hate me, and my father and my father’s father. Times. ” Arturo loves being American and would not want to be anything else. He soon understands that Camilla wants to be American Just as much as he wants to be a famous writer. What he did was contradict himself by calling Camilla all those horrible names he was called when he was younger.
Hypocrisy and contradiction plays a huge role in Arturo Banding’s life and attitude towards whether it be towards love, himself, or other races. He struggles to realize that his actions are hurting him and the others around him. His desire to be a writer fueled his energy to become negative towards most of his peers. All he really wanted was to get famous and become rich, but he found out the true meanings of life and what is more important. Rotator’s dreams of becoming a rich and famous writer in California did not fully come true. He found what love is, who he really is, and how it feels to not be American.