Studying The Life Of Thomas Pynchon English Literature Essay

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Thomas Pynchon is one of the contemporary Americans writers. He was born in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York on May 18, 1937. His fathers name is Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Sr. (1907 - 1995) and his mother Katherine France (1909 - 1996), they have another two children. William Pynchon, his great grandfather, has emigrated to Massachusetts Colony in 1630, and after many generations found fortune and reputation on American soil. This background about his ancestry was an important material for Pynchon fiction.

Pynchon was a student at Oyster Bay High School. He was awarded as the student of the year. He published some short pieces of his fictional work at his school newspaper. His earliest working encouraged some of literary motifs. He would use during his writings just like: Strange names (Oedipa Mass, Pierce Inverarity) and illegal drugs (LSD pills).

At the age of 16, he graduated from high school. He started to study at Cornell University, engineering physics, but two years later he left the university and joined the U.S Navy. He returned to his university to achieve a degree in English in 1957. His story "The Small Rain", is about a real experience of a friend in the Army, however plot and characters was taken from his own experience in the Army.

During his study at the university, Pynchon was a student at Vladimir Nabokov class and he attended lectures repeatedly. Later Nabokov said that he didn't remember anything about Pynchon. But his wife Vera, who used to grade papers of her husband class, commented something about his hand writing that it is a distinctive one. The novelist James Mc Conkey taught Pynchon at Cornell and he said that Pynchon is a talented and extraordinary student. He pursued his B.A. in June 1959.

Pynchon wrote seven distinctive novels, and a few short stories. His first novel is V. He started to write after his graduation from Cornell, started from Feb. 1960 until 1962, it was published in 1963 and he won a William Faulkner foundation(1). "V is a long, dark - toned fantasy - his preferred medium for depicting American life in the latter half of the 20th century." (Head, 2006).

Pynchon worked as a technical writer at Boeing in Seattle, where he wrote safety articles for the "Bomarc Service News" (Pynchon,1966) . When Pynchon resigned from Boeing, he spent sometime in New York and Mexico, then he moved to an apartment at Manhattan Beach, California. Now lives, it is said - in south or north California.

In 1964, Pynchon wrote a letter to his agent, Candida Donadio, that he is in a middle of a creative crisis, with four novels in his mind, announcing: "If they come out on paper anything like they are inside my head then it will be the literary event of the millennium." (Gussow, 1998). In Dec. 1965, Stanley Edgar Hyman asked Pynchon to teach literature at Pennington college, but he politly refused; because he decided, before two or three years, to write three novels one time. He describe that decision as "A moment of temporary insanity." (Gussow, 1998).

In 1960, his first - hand report, entitled "A Journey In to the Mind of Watts"(2), was published in New York Times magazine. From the mid 1960s he has regularly wrote many blurbs and introductions for novels and non - fiction works.

Pynchon's sense of humor found in many episodes from V is in his second novel The crying of Lot 49. It was published in 1966 and won the Richard And Hilda Rosenthal foundation after short period of publication. "This short, perfectly controlled novel teases us and itself with questions about the meaning of our American heritage, as embodied in the form of the mysterious legacy left to it's heroine, Oedipa Maas." (Baym, 1998). It's not sure if it was one of the three novels that Pynchon has in progress, but in 1965 he wrote to Donadio that "he is in the middle of writing a book that he characterizes as a potboiler. When it grows to 155 pages, he calls it a short story, but with gland trouble." (Gussow, 1998). (This novel is the case of study in this research and it will be clearly explained in chapter (II and III).

In 1968, Pynchon and another 447 signatories were in "writers and editors War Tax Protest"." There was a list of the names that pledge not to Pay the proposed 10% income tax surcharge or any war designed tax increase", and their belief which was "That American involvement in Vietnam is morally wrong." ( See Appendix "1". The New York Post and The New York Review of Books published the protest.

In 1973, Pynchon wrote his third an most praised novel Gravity's Rainbow. "He received a National Book Award, and was a regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel prize for Literature."( "It's a complicated meditation or World War II, rocket science, and mid-20th century's dark fascination with death". (Head, 2006).It's his longest exhaustive effort." More readers begin Gravity's Rainbow than finish it." (Baym, 1998).

In 1984, a collection of Pynchon's early short - stories Slow Learner, was published. At the same year in October, Pynchon published an article entitled: "Is It O.K to be a Luddite?"(3) in the New York Times Book Review. After three years, in April, Love in the Time of Colera a novel by Gabriel Garcia was published and Pynchon contributed an extensive review to the New York Times entitled: "The Heart's Eternal Vow". In June 1993, the article "Nearer, My couch, to Thee "was published in the New York Times Book Review, as one of many articles about the Seven Deadly sins(4). Pynchon wrote about "Sloth".

In 1990, Pynchon published his fourth novel Vineland, but unfortunately many fans and critics considered it disappointment. However, the novelist Salman Rushdie provided a positive review. The novel takes place in California between authoritarianism(5) and communalism(6), and the relation between resistance and complicity, but with Pynchon special of humor.

Pynchon received Macarthur Fellowship(7) in 1988, and since that, at least he was mentioned as a regular contender of the Nobel Prize by many observers. ,The famous American literary critic," Harold Bloom named him as one of the four major American novelists of his time, along with Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, and Cormac McCarthy." (

In 1997, Pynchon fifth novel Mason and Dixon was published; though he started it since at least Jan 1975. Its "An ambitious magnum opus written in 18th century English that centers on the two surveyors who created the line dividing the American south from the rest of the Nation." (Head, 2006).

Many different rumors specialized to the subject matter of Against the Day circulated a number of years. The novel's action happened between 1893 Chicago World Fair(8) and the time after World War I. Pynchon's sixth and funniest novel Against the Day was published on Nov 21, 2006. It is 1,085 pages long. The professional book reviewers were given almost no time in advance to review the book and it was given a little advancement by Penguin Press.

Mainstream critics in the U.S admired the novel because of it's loyalty to the 1960 ideals condemnation of capitalism. Some critics and reviewers remarked this was the top pf Pynchon's career and the culmination of his personal philosophy. But others maid the point that the novel is connected. It's pieces is taken from Pynchon's former works.

Some information about Pynchon's seventh novel Inherent Vice appointed for publication in August 2009 was revealed in October 2008, and later asserted by Penguin Press. A brief extract from the novel were written in Penguin Press' summer 2009 catalogue.

Poet L.E. Sissman, wrote from the New Yorker:

"He is almost a mathematician of Prose, who calculates the least and the greatest stress each word and line, each pun and ambiguity, can bear, and applies his knowledge accordingly and virtually without lapses, though he takes many scary, bracing linguistic risks. Thus his remarkably supple, without pause, into the sounds and echoes of a drugged and drunken orgy." (Sissman, 1973).

Through his writing, Pynchon has revealed a part of his enthusiasm for a apart of his enthusiasm for popular music. In almost all of his novels, song lyrics and mock musical numbers are noticed. He shows fondness for Jazz and rock and roll. In the case study novel, the lead singer of the paranoids band, Miles, appears in a haircut like the Beatle and sings English accents.

Investigation into the world of human, psychology, mathematics, science, and technology repeatedly occur throughout Pynchon's work. The crying of Lot 49 mention the Entropy and the second law of Thermodynamic and something about communication. Also, the mention of hallucination. This digression made it difficult for people, and even critics, to understand his works. His tendency was toward fantasy, absurdity, and far-out invention. "No wonder that in a good number of contemporary short stories, the fiction is as shapeless as the mind that perceives it, and this might be a factor in making such stories hard to follow and to understand." (Safadi, 1996).

There are some contemporary American authors like Steve Erickson, John Hawks, William Gaddis, have been affected by Pynchon's style. The fiction of Pynchon and other authors like Steve Erickson has been categorized as hysterical realism.

There is nothing too much known about Pynchon's private life. He didn't like talking with reporters, and a very few photos of him have ever been existed, and his whereabouts have often remained hidden. The rumors about his location have been circulated since the 1960s. One of the obvious features of his personal life is his absence from mass media and this caused for him many rumors. He also avoided and refused the spectacle of celebrity and public appearances. In the early 1990s, Pynchon got married to his literary agent - Melanie Jackson, she's a great granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt - and has a son, Jackson, in 1991.

In 1998, about 120 letters were given to a library in New York city named Pierpont Morgan Library - Pynchon had written these letters to his old agent, Candida Donadio. They were arranged from 1963 to 1982. The library allow the scholars to see the letters, and at Pynchon's appeal the Burden family, who donated the letters, and Morgan Library decided to seal these letters until after his death.

Chapter Two

Summary of the Novel

One summer night, Oedipa Maas, a young woman married to Mucho Maas, received a letter telling her that Pierce Inverarity, a mogul ex-boyfriend, has died and naming her as the executor of his will. He used to live in San Narciso and owned a large number of assets in California. Oedipa tried to remembered what happened a year ago, finally she remembered that she received a call at 3a.m from Pierce, who used to speak in different voices, and that was the last time she spoke with him.

Oedipa knows that the estates are in a confused situation, and that he lost a lot of money on a deal. Pierce's death caused strange imagination for Oedipa, she thought that she was very ill. Oedipa decides to execute her duty to Pierce Inverarity, but unfortunately she didn't know anything about wills, and she couldn't ask her husband, Mucho Maas, who used to work as a former used - car salesman and now worked as a D.J at "KCUF" (Pynchon,1966) radio station. At 3 a.m. in the same night, Oedipa receives a call from her psychiatrist, Dr. Hilarius, asking her to join an experiment about drugs, but she refuses.

In the morning, she meets Roseman, her lawyer, who keeps asking her to escape with him, but he doesn't know where. She remembered that she always hoped to escape with Pierce, but she never did. At end of chapter I, she imagines herself as Rapunzel(9) trapped at the top of a tower waiting Pierce to climb her hair to reach the top of the tower, but she imagines that he couldn't reach her because the hair was only a wig and he falls down.

Oedipa rents a car and leaves from Kinneret, where she lives, to San Narciso, Pierce's hometown, in order to go to his law firm. She drives by Yoyodyne company, which belongs to Pierce. When Oedipa arrives she check into the "Echo courts Motel"(Pynchon,1966).

At the hotel, she meets Miles, a teenage manager, who plays in a Rock band called "The Paranoids"(Pynchon,1966). Oedipa offers to play one of their songs on the station where her husband works. Later at the night, Metzger, a lawyer from the law firm, arrives to the hotel in order to help Oedipa to execute the will.

Metzger was an actor when he was a child named "Baby Igor"(Pynchon,1966). He was telling her about his personal history. They drank tequila while watching one of his movies on television. Most of the commercials were about products for one of Pierce's companies. Oedipa starts to make bets about how the movie will end. She said that Baby Igor will die. At the end of the movie he was electrocuted, so she won the bet. Metzger tells her that he knows about her trip with Pierce to Mexico, she asks him what Pierce had said about her, he said that he told him that "she wouldn't be easy." (Pynchon, 1966). Oedipa and Metzger secretly starts an affair.

Oedipa started to order everything about Pierce's financial affairs and his possessions. She noticed that he had extensive stamp collection. Her husband Mucho kept sending for her meaningless mails updating her about things happened in "Kinneret"(Pynchon,1966), nothing is useful or important. At night, Oedipa and Metzger went into a bar called "The Scope"(Pynchon,1966) where they meet a man called Mike Fallopian who is a member from organization called the "Peter Pinguid society"(Pynchon,1966). It's a right - wing organization. Oedipa Metzger and Mike chatted about the organization. Oedipa left the group and went to the bathroom. In the way, she noticed a symbol that she couldn't recognize, but she knew that it depicts a muted post horn. Under the symbol where was the acronym W.A.S.T.E. and the name "Kirby" (Pynchon,1966) but she couldn't know what it was about. Oedipa discussed the mail service and Postal service with Mike.

After a few days, Oedipa and Metzger, visited Fangoso Lagoons, one of Pierce's properties, and they found Lake Inverarity, a major land owned by Pierce. Miles and his band with their girlfriends accompany them. During their time there, they met the lawyer Manny Di Presso, who was suing on behalf of his client, Tony Jaguar, the Inverarity estate. While they were talking, Di Presso recognized two of his clients running towards them because they want to borrow money. Qucikly the group stole a boat and escaped to a house in the middle of the Lake. Later, Di Presso explained that he was suing the Inverarity because, as his client Jaguar said, they have never paid for the human bones he brought.

Jaguar got the bones from the bottom of the Lake which come from Italy after World War II. When the dead body of the Americans where dumped into a Lake. Pierce used the bones to make Charcoal for cigarette filters. A member from The Paranoids and claimed that the story Di Presso told is much similar to "The couriers Tragedy"(Pynchon,1966), a play from the 17th century by Richard Wharfinger. Oedipa and Metzger decided to go and watch a production of the Jacobean revenge, The couriers Tragedy. The play is over five acts and directed by Randolph.

It's a complex plot about communication, murder and envy. As the end of the fourth act, a character said the word "Trystero" which meant something important for Oedipa but she couldn't know yet what it was, and later it would mean something bigger. When the play ended, Oedipa went backstage to ask Driblette, who also was the hero of the play, about the play. While Metzger waited her at the car. Driblette told her to stop analyzing the play that much, because it was just for fun and didn't mean anything, but she was very concerned about the "Trystero" more than the bones. Driblette went to take a shower and she told him that she would call him later. In the car her husband was speaking on the car radio.

Oedipa read Pierce's will again. She noticed that he mentioned Yoyodyne company. One morning, she visited the stockholders meeting. She met the company's president, Clayton Chiclitz, and he took her into a tour. During that, she met Stanly Koteks, an engineer in the company. She noticed that he was drawing the muted post horn, The Trystero symbol, on a paper. She told him that she was a stockholder, he asked if she could change the patent rules, he commented that they are very restrictive.

Stanly told Oedipa about a scientist, John Nefastis, who invented a machine that theoretically broke the Second Law of Thermodynamics, wanted to meet Nefastis and try his Maxwell's Demon. Stanly told her that John Nefastis had escaped from the company and created his machine. Stanly gave Oedipa a box number he didn't realize it was W.A.S.T.E., she asked about it and pronounced it as a word, but Stanly refused to answer her, so she suspected that it was the new address of W.A.S.T.E. which was written in The Scope bar. Few days later, she returned to The Scope and met Mike Fallopian. She discussed with him what happened at the company and told him about Stanly and W.A.S.T.E., he told her that Stanly might be a part of a huge conspiracy.

Oedipa's curiosity to find more about the play and the Trystero pushed her to try to contact Driblette, but she couldn't reach him. So she went to a bookstores and got a copy of the Jacobean Revenge plays. She noticed that their was no mention of the Trystero in the paperback copy. Oedipa decided to go to Berkeley, in order to meet the publisher. On her way, she went to an elderly care home owned by Pierce. There, she met a person called Mr. Thoth, whose grandfather used to kill the Indiane. Mr. Thoth showed her a ring with the muted post horn carved on it. Later on, Oedipa consults a philatelist (stamp expert) called Genghis Cohen to examine Pierce's stamp collection. After examining the stamps, Genghis told that almost all the stamps contained a muted post horn in their water make. At that point, Oedipa started thinking that she was on the threshold of uncovering a very large conspiracy that can be traced back to the 16th century mail system in Europe.

Oedipa found that the original copy is different from the one she saw in the play, it didn't mention the word Trystero. A footnote illustrated that the word may have different spelling, one of the different spelling is an allusion for the Trystero. She decided to drive to UC. Berkeley in order to meet professor Emory Bortz, the professor who wrote the preface of the play. She hopes that he can illustrate the difference between the four version of the play. She found that he moved to San Narciso College . Before she going there she decided to visit John Nefastis to see his machine and tested it. Nefastis told her that it need special mental abilities to work, and the person who tested the machine must be a "sensitive".

He explained to her how the machine theoretically works, and on what principle. He also told her that the Maxwell's Demon uses the thermodynamic and the information flow. She failed to try the machine. Nefastis told Oedipa that she doesn't have special mental abilities.

Oedipa's thoughts about Trystero is that it is the center of her obsession. Oedipa tried to remember everything about the muted horn and its existence before 1853, the "Thurn and Taxis system "(10)(Pynchon,1966), the story of the Indian man with the ring that a man from the elderly care house told her. After all of that, she started to believe that the organization is still found in California.

She began a very long night by driving purposeless. She met with a man at the bar and notice the Trystero symbol on a button of his coat. She told him everything she knew about the Trystero and "Thurn and Taxis"(Pynchon,1966), but he refused to give her information about the Trystero. However, he told her about the name, Kirby under the muted horn at The Scope is a code name. He explained to her that he is a member of "Inamorata Anonymous"(Pynchon,1966). A fired employed at Yoyodyne company first initiate the symbol. The organization is about controlling the addiction of falling in love. This story left Oedipa confused about Trystero which might be a symbol of two different organization. While she was driving she notice the symbol everywhere. She couldn't recognize which one of them is related to her story.

Oedipa watched a group of children nearby Golden Gate Park, they were playing hopscotch on the Trystero symbol which was drawn in chalk. They were saying a rhyme that has the word Trystero and the phrase "Turning Taxis"(Pynchon,1966), she knew that it is "Thurn and Taxis". Oedipa accidentally met Jesus Arrable, an old friend of pierce whom she met briefly in her trip to Mexico with Pierce. She saw in the city a written acronym "D.E,A.T.H"(Pynchon,1966) for the phrase "Don't Ever Antagonize The Horn". (Pynchon, 1966). She saw the Trystero symbol at a washing machine and in the bathroom at the airport. There she heard a mother spoke to her son and told him to send letters to her via W.A.S.T.E. She started to hallucinate with the symbol and saw it everywhere around her.

Before the sun rises, she went downtown and met an old man with a horn tattoo, who asked her to deliver this letter via W.A.S.T.E. box and he gave her the direction. He said that he is sick and couldn't deliver it by himself. She helped him to get into his room upstairs. After that, she left him and went to find the W.A.S.T.E. box. She delivered the letter and secretly waited until the delivery man took all the letters. She followed him while delivering all the letters and went to the house of John Nefastis. After finished chasing. Oedipa return to the hotel, and entered the dancing room and found a deaf - mute dancing party. Stranger began to dance with her although the music was off. She dance with him for 30 minutes and was surprised because she didn't hit with anyone.

Oedipa decided to go home to her husband. When she arrived quickly she went to see Dr. Hilarius, her psychiatrist, she hoped that he can explain, everything happened with her as a dream, and she ordered everything she saw to be part of the big story, he started shooting at her, quickly she ran into the door and the nurse lets her in. The nurse told Oedipa that Dr. Hilarius has become completely crazy. He locked himself at his office shooting everyone he saw. Oedipa went to speak with him he told her that he believes that Israel sends men to kill him because he worked once with Nazis and invented drugs for them. He is insane that he used to trust and believe in Freud, he is Jew. The cops broke the door and arrested Dr. Hilarius.

Meanwhile, a number of cars and photographers of magazine's, newspaper's, radio's and TV's reporters gathered around Dr. Hilarius's house. She noticed that her husband's van, from the KCUF, was between them. She ran to meet her husband and told him everything happened with her. She went with him to the studio and talked. It became clear to her that her husband has an addiction on LSD pills(11) (Pynchon,1966). He claimed that it helps him gets rid of the nightmares. She knew that she cannot communicate with him and she had lost him.

This is the last chapter of novel, begins when Oedipa decided to go back to San Narciso. When she arrived to the Echo Hotel, she met again The Paranoids hanging around the hotel. Oedipa knew that Metzger left the law firm to another lawyer and run off to marry Serge's ex-girlfriend, a member of the Paranoids. Oedipa felt that she is lonely. She called Prof. Emory Bortz in order to meet with him, his wife answered the phone and invited her to visit him.

On her way, she stopped at the bookstores where she bought the copy of "The Courier's Tragedy", but she found that it was completely burnt, she knew from the owner of the next government store that Zapf, the owner of the bookstores, has burnt it in order to get the insurance money. Finally, she arrived at Bortz's house, she found him with a group of his students. She asked him about the play and the mention of the Trystero. He tried to inform her everything he knows about the Trystero. He told her that the best one who can understand Wharfinger was Dribrette but, sadly, he committed suicide before few days. Oedipa felt helpless and disabled, she will never understand why Driblette used the Trystero name in his own play.

With all help from Bortz, she gradually began to understand the history of the Trystero and how was it established. She started to believe that the Trystero has removed Driblitte just like he removed her husband, Metzger, and her psychiatrist, Dr. Hilarius. She gather the information in her head and started to shape the history of Trystero. She learned that in the sixteenth century, William of Orange became independent, and he replaced Leopold I, who owner the Taxis postal, with Jan Hinckard. Hernado Joaquin Trystero, Hinckard's cousin, faced Hinckard who said that he was more appropriate. De Trystero wanted to own everything that Hinckard owned. He fought a war his cousin for five years. At the end, De Trystero gave up and began his own system.

Brotz told Oedipa the theory that somebody tried to unite the two systems but he didn't succeed. She spent all the time between libraries and meetings with Bortz and Cohen, but slowly she started to give up. She return to The Scope and met Mike Fallopian. She told him everything happened with her, but he tried to explained to her that maybe what happened to her is a huge and complicated joke from Pierce in order to fool her. Pierce himself might not be dead, he could be alive. She didn't believe him, though she discovered that everything she found about Trystero leads to one of Pierce's estate.

Few days later, Cohen called her and told her that he has a stamp which defined W.A.S.T.E. as "WE awaited silent Trystero Empire"(Pynchon,1966). she found that the stamps come from Zapf's bookstores. Later she knew that this bookstores owned by Pierce, as well as the government next store. Actually, he also owned the Tank Theater, where she and Metzger watch the play. Beside all of that the San Narciso College, where Bortz works, and all its books is one of his estate. So every road leads her to the Trystero is owned by Pierce, she started to think whether the Trystero is real or she just hallucinated it, or that Pierce own everything she know. She suspected everything about her life. She spent her time alone with no friends.

Cohen kept coming with a new information. He informs her that the followers of the Trystero came to America in 1850 and immediately began stamp production. One day, Cohen told Oedipa that the stamp collection are going to be sold in an auction under the name Lot 49. He told her that an anonymous wants to buy all the collection under any Price, but he won't reveal himself. She was excited to know the anonymous man. She believed that he is the key of the big secret. Oedipa sat back alone waited of The crying of Lot 49 and watched the procedure of the auction began.

Chapter Three

A Critical Analysis of the Novel


Oedipa Maas:

The protagonist of the novel. A housewife from California. Married to Mucho Maas. Her ex-boyfriend names her the executor of his will. She finds a large secret about a mail system in his enormous estate, but she couldn't find any help about it; further more, everyman she knows leaves her alone. Oedipa works, in the novel, as a detective trying to reveal the hidden truth behind the Trystero symbol, the muted horn. At the end, she isn't sure of anything in her life, whether the Trystero is real or she turns insane.

Pierce Inverarity:

Oedipa's ex-boyfriend. He doesn't appear directly in the novel but he has a huge effect on the events of the novel. Pierce is a very rich man and owns a large number of assets in San Narciso. He names Oedipa as the executor of his will, where the Trystero appears many times. At the end, Oedipa starts to think that Pierce might be a live playing a huge joke on her.

Mucho Maas:

Oedipa's husband who used to work as a used car salesman. Now, he works for KCUF radio station. He suffers from nightmares. Oedipa always tries to calm him, but finally he decides to join Dr. Hillarius experiment about the LSD pills. He becomes a drug addicted. Oedipa leaves him.

Dr. Hilarius:

He is Oedipa's psychiatrist. He asks Oedipa to join an experiment about the LSD pills and their effects on house wives, but she refuses although her husband joins the experiment. He becomes crazy at the end of the novel. He starts to shoot everyone he sees. He admits that he worked as a doctor for the Nazi in WWII. Finally, he is arrested by the police.


A lawyer in Pierce's law firm. He is assigned to help Oedipa in the will. He makes an affair with her. He used to be an actor named Baby Igor when he was a child. In the middle of the novel he lefts Oedipa, runs off and marries the girlfriend of a member in the Paranoids who is named Serge.

John Nefastis:

A former employee at Yoyodyne. He also an inventor. He invents a machine based theoretically on creating perpetual motion. Oedipa goes to see him to try the machine but she fails.

Genghis Cohen:

He is a stamp expert who is hired by Oedipa to examine and appraise Pierce's special stamp collection. He sees the Trystero, muted post horn, regularly. He tells Oedipa about that and she tells him about everything she knows. He keeps informing her with more information. He tells her that the symbol, but wasn't muted, used for a mail system in the 16th century.

Emory Bortz:

A former professor at the University of California, but he moved to San Narciso College. He wrote the preface of one version of the couriers Tragedy. Oedipa goes to see him and ask him about the play and the use of Trystero, in it. He tells her what he knows but also tells her that the answer of the big secret about this is with Driblette.

Mr. Thoth:

He is old man at an elderly place owned by Pierce. He shows Oedipa a ring with a muted post horn, from his grandfather, who used to kill Indians. He took the ring out of a finger of an Indian that he killed.

Randolf Driblette:

He is the director and the hero of The Courier's Tragedy. Oedipa meets him after the play ends to ask him about the lines that mention the Trystero. He tells her that there is no deep meaning behind that, it is just for fun. He doesn't convince Oedipa. She takes his number and decides to call him later. But unfortunately he committed suicide before she can take any piece of information from him.

Stanly Koteks:

He works at Yoyodyne company. Oedipa meets him in his office while he was drawing the Trystero symbol. She asks him about that but he refuses to tell her anything. He hopes that Oedipa could change the rules of the patent. He also tells her about John Nefastis who escaped from the company and invented a machine. She asks for Nefastis address, he gives the WASTE address before he realizes that it is not Nefastis address. That is the time when Oedipa becomes sure that he knows a lot but refuses to talk.

Mike Fallopian:

Oedipa and Metzger meet him at the Scope bar. He tells them that he is a member of the Peter Pinguid Society. He also tells Oedipa a little about the symbol drawn on the wall of the bar. She returns to see him several times in order to get more information about the Trystero or about anything new she


He is a teenage who manage the Echo courts Motel in San Narciso, where Oedipa stays. He is a member in the Paranoids band, along with Serge, Dean and Leonard. They go with Oedipa to visit Fangoso Lagoon serge's girlfriend runs away with Metzger.

finds. Once she sees him, he tells her to stop analyzing and stop trying a connection between everything. He also tells her that Pierce may be playing tricks with her .


Oedipa's lawyer. She asks him to help her execute the will. He tells her what an executor should do. He also asks her to escape with him.

Manny Di Presso:

He is a lawyer who, in behalf of his client, is suing the Inverarity. He claims that they never paid for his client when he sells them the human bones to make charcoal.

Tony Jaguar:

He is Di Presso's client. He is suing the Inverarity, estate for not paying for him when he sells them stolen bones of dead American soldiers from the bottom of the lake.

Names and Language

It's obvious that Pynchon chooses names that aren't used in daily life. They are strange and almost no one used them. For example, the name of the protagonist "Oedipa" is not found in anyplace. Some critics suggest that Oedipa is the feminine form of Oedipus from the play "Oedipus the King" by "Sophocles". Both of them have a mystery that they desire to solve. The name "Maas" suggests something resist change. Or something about means of communication, which is an important theme in the novel.

Pierce Inverarity, as many names in the novel, is a weird one. Inverarity, from the word Veritas, indicates something that opposite the truth. It can suggest also the word variety, he has different kinds of assets. Also it is mentioned at the beginning of the novel that he likes to speak in different voices.

Pynchon used to play with words and uses puns at the whole novel. The use of strange names is an example of that. Also the word "Lot" in the title was mentioned many times, but didn't mean anything until the last pages of the novel. Another example of playing with words is the name of the radio station where Mucho Maas works, KCUF, when we start reading it from the last letter we will read the word "fuck". It doesn't necessarily have a further meaning, it is just an example of manipulating language.



Drugs was one of many difficulties that faced the American society in the sixties. Pynchon describes the problem carefully. He mentions the drug more a little time before the end of the novel. A special kind of drugs used that time is LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) pills, used for hallucination. Dr. Hilarius tries to convince people to take them. Even he himself takes them, in order to escape from the reality but he becomes crazy. Also Oedipa's husband, Mucho Maas, was addicted to them, so that he can stop seeing nightmares.

Drugs mixed the reality and the imagination worlds together. Addicted people are not able to control their decisions or their lives. In fact, they ruin them. They also become isolated from the surrounding world. Oedipa loses her husband and her psychiatrist because of drugs.


Pynchon wanted to study physics at university and so he shows tendency toward mathematics. So that he uses this trend in his writings. He writes about the effect of computers in the sixties. Moreover, we can see the Maxwell Demon which, theoretically, could make a perpetual motion and breaks the Second Law of Thermodynamics.


In this novel, Pynchon uses historical secrets and symbols. "Lot 49 is largely a meditation on the failure of communication, both in the present, and between generations". (Geddes, 2002). In this novel it is hard to distinguish the facts in history from the deception. The main secret in the novel is the Trystero which is connected with an underground mail system. W.A.S.T.E., the symbol of this system, is the muted post horn. But while Oedipa was searching, she knew something about unmated horn which used as a symbol of an old mail system called Thurn and Taxis, this is a real mail in the history unlike the W.A.S.T.E. which is from the writers imagination.

Pynchon considers the mail as an important means of communication. In fact, the mail was the fastest means of communication of long - distance in 1960s before the invention of the telegraph and the information age. He even, in his fake history, says that in the old time Europe mail was an important reason for battles. Some employees at Yoyodyne company send letters via W.A.S.T.E even if they didn't want anything. The electronic communication wasn't used much. Oedipa remembers that she receives a phone call from Pierce and she receives a phone call from her psychiatrist Dr. Hilarius. Also the mention of the T.V was mentioned when she and Metzger watch a movie for him, when he was a child, at the hotel.

Body Language:

In his novel, Pynchon uses the theme of body language as an effective means of communication, sometimes more important and more telling than spoken language itself. An obvious aspect is the Trystero, or the muted post horn, which indicates silence and non spoken communication. Another example about the use of silence instead of talking is Dr. Hilarius and his ways of treating people by shaping different faces at them. Even his name Hilarius signifies something about laughing, non-spoken, non-verbal communication.


Music is involved in almost all novels written by Pynchon. In the case study, Pynchon hires a band called the Paranoids. The lead singer, Miles, is a teenager who appears in a style looks like the Beatles. The sings in an English accent, so they watch a lot of English movies. Clearly the band is an imitation of another one, but it is hard to tell which one is that. Another use of music is at the Scope bar, Yoyodyne songs, and the songs from Metzger movie, when he was a child.


Do we live in a conspiracy?

This is a big and confusing question that almost all of us think about. The novel shows a normally human tracking the answer, but leaves that person, as well as the readers, with no answer.

That person, Oedipa Maas, follows the clues left by the suppose antagonist, and she reaches a point when she completely believes that she is surrounded by mysteries and secrets. She finds no solid proof that the clues are left intentionally. Nevertheless, nothing happens by chance.


William Faulkner Foundation: It is an award given every year to an author who wrote the best work of fiction. The winner gets 15000$.

Watts: It is a riot happened in Aug 1965, lasted 6 days. It happened in Watts neighborhood near Los Angles. 34 people were killed, 1032 were injured, and 3438 were in prison.

Luddite: A movement appears at the early 19th century. Former workmen destroyed the mechanical machine because it reduced the number of workers.

Seven Deadly Sins: Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth, Wrath.

Authoritarianism: It is an organization refers to authority, it is against democracy.

Communalism: It is from community in which the society divided into small communes.

Mac Arthur Fellowship: An award given annually to 20 to 40 citizen in USA, in spite of the age or the work, who show an exceptional effort in a particular field.

Chicago World Fair: It is a fair held in Chicago in 1893. The citizens celebrate of Christopher Columbus arrival to America before 400 years.

Rapunzel: A German tale published in 1812 about a girl trapped in a high tower offered to let down her long hair to her lover to climb the tower and reached her.

Thurn and Taxis: A mail system appeared in Europe in the 16th century. It was owned by a German family.

LSD pills: (Lysergic acid diethylamide). An illegal drug in America. It causes increasing in the blood pressure, and many other side effects.