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The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a great story of mystery of satire that takes place between real life and the main fictional character Oedipa Maas. Oedipa starts off as a housewife and ends up being consumed by society. Like a hero she has the determination, will power and the capacity to perform the task given to her, but goes too far in her search becoming an anti-hero in herself.
Oedipa attempts at finding meaning in her life. She is depicted as a white suburban housewife who regularly tends her garden, attends Tupperware parties, and prepares dinner for her husband. Although her life seems "typical" of suburban housewives, Oedipa experiences frequent psychotic episodes and hallucinations. In the first chapter we learn that Oedipa had visions of herself as Rapunzel trapped, which can symbol her sense of being lost and needing something more in life than what she has. Oedipa is mesmerized with the Trystero on the bathroom door, starting her on journey of something more that she may be wanting. Having this want find meaning in this, Oedipa, starts and pursues on every clue she can get. She takes notice of the smallest details and stores them away in her mind, hanging onto them and absolutely determined to make something out of them, or find a hidden meaning that was left behind for her. For example, Oedipa becomes obsessed in the play "The Courier's Tragedy" getting her hands on the book that the script was taken from and then going even farther back to its original roots before realizing that none of them are the same. Oedipa is stuck on the word Trystero, and even the director Driblette tells her "You can put together clues, develop a thesis, or several about why characters reacted to the trystero possibility the way they did, why the assassins came on, why the black costumes. You could waste your life that way and never touch the truth." Is this heroic to find an answer or just crazy? Oedipa is coming out of her shell as a housewife, looking for answers and becoming confidence that she is capable of doing more than staying at home.
It is harder for Oedipa to form connections or basic truth to events unfolding around her, because all the characters around her feed into paranoia and frustration. Her husband, Mucho Maas is supposed stick together through thick and thin goes crazy on LSD, and ends up alienating Oedipa, Dr. Hilarius who loses it completely shoots at people, the band called The Paranoids, and even Mike Fallopian. All of these characters around Oedipa struggle with their own analysis of life events and are not positive role models for Oedipa. Oedipa's paranoia begins to grow as she states, "Each clue that comes is supposed to have its own clarity, its fine chances for permanence." It is almost as Oedipa is self-justifying the path she has taken, making sure she is in reality. At first it may have been heroic that Oedipa was doing something good finding positive answers for Pierce, but that idea has now disappeared. In the end, Oedipa finds herself alone and alienated from society, having lost touch with the housewife life she used to live before she began her attempt to uncover the mystery of the Trystero.
There are a few examples of satire which Pynchon uses in this book. The first one the reader should pick up on is the name Oedipa which is very similar to Oedipus. However Oedipus can see he is blind to the events taking place around him. This can be compared to Oedipa that she is blinded by Trystero and is so consumed that she is losing her identity and awareness of the world around her. Another example of satire is how the story is, and there is never an answer. Pynchon is almost comparing the reader to Oedipa because we are trying to put the clues together throughout the book as well. It is a mystery book, and there are so many highlights, the reader wonders when it is all going to come together. In the end, it doesn't and the reader and Oedipa are both confused. He makes fun of everyone who tries to find meaning from the fragments of life that we all perceive in our own way. Pynchon knew that the reader would be trying to make meaning out of something that he states has no meaning. W.A.S.T.E seemed like he was making fun of how people waste their time in figuring out life events and purpose in life. Oedipas long journey to try and figure out the clues wasted her time, all for what? She wasted more away than she did gain, and came out more confused and frustrated with life.
People do try to make sense of world meaning and there purpose in life, although I do not think it is usually taken as far as Oedipa took it. Oedipa wanted Pierce to save her from her tower like Rapunzel, and he did. It seemed like he knew that he still had control over her emotional state, and even though it was not positive, Oedipa still was freed from this experience. Continuing until the end, Oedipa was determined to figure out the mystery of the Trystero and that is a quality of a hero. Although determination and trying to consume information can be positive when figuring out clues, you cannot let it take over. In the end, there was no purpose and Oedipa was left with nothing. Not everything in life will make sense and you can either accept it and move on, or go crazy trying to figure it out. Hopefully if you try to figure it out, you will not end up wasting your time.