Tags

, ,

Named executrix of her deceased ex-boyfriend’s estate, Oedipa Maas seeks out to settle the arduous legalities that are thrust upon her in Thomas Pynchon’s novel, The Crying of Lot 49. During her quest, Oedipa is slowly driven mad as she encounters a myriad of seemingly symbolic logos that haunt and entrap her in a state of paranoia. From the start of the novel, the theme of communication is immediately called into question as novel opens with the delivery of a letter that names Oedipa the executrix of the estate. Instantly, communication failure is introduced, as Oedipa cannot understand why a man with whom she has not been in contact in years asks her to carry out such important duties. Why Oedipa? Is it a joke? Is her ex-boyfriend trying to tell her something? Yet, this act of communication or lack of it remains important, as it is what drives the labyrinth of a plot into motion. In the second chapter, the plot is further foreshadowed with Oedipa’s participation in Strip Botticelli. At the start of this scene, reality is blurred as she slowly slips further into inebriation and begins to invoke God. Reality remains questionable as film fragments on TV are paired with the Strip Botticelli game. “So it went: the succession of film fragments on the tube, the progressive removal of clothing that seemed to bring her no nearer nudity, the boozing…” (28). No matter how many items of clothing Oedipa strips off, she is never fully exposed. Similarly, Oedipa’s constant search and attempts at uncovering meanings of symbols are never fully actualized. Without revealing definite answers, Pynchon demonstrates the limitations of communication and poses larger questions about humanity and the universe. Do we read too far into things? Is anything actually connected? Is everything meaningless? Are we, as readers, just like Oedipa as we try to analyze a novel filled with ambiguities?

Advertisements