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It was refreshing to read a story with a female protagonist in a particular genre that is usually reserved for men. The Crying of Lot 49 has elements of the detective novel beginning with the character of Oedipa Maas. Oedipa is this novel’s version of the hard-boiled sleuth looking for meaning in a labyrinth of clues and intrigue. Although not exactly hard-boiled, Oedipa can be seen through an existential lens in that she is presented with a conspiratorial society, filled with secrets that she must uncover and make sense of to find some kind of meaning in her life. Aside from Oedipa, the other detective novel elements in this story include the West Coast setting and Oedipa’s over-dependence on her car. Also, the novel’s instability is only accentuated by Oedipa’s constant movement.

The character of Metzger can be interpreted as this novel’s male version of the femme fatale. With his seduction of Oedipa, he ,in a way, attempts to veer her of her investigation, just like a femme fatale. However, this is where the novel departs from the detective genre. Metzger’s seduction of Oedipa suggests that he sees her as nothing but a sexual object for his pleasure; the men in the novel tend to view Oedipa as such. Miles from The Paranoids, John Nefastis, and the old men at the Yoyodyne stock holders meeting all view Oedipa as nothing more than a plaything.

-Jasmine Flores

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