Journey of Self-Discovery in Thomas Pynchons' The Crying of Lot 49
Thomas Pynchons' The Crying of Lot 49 challenges the readers' perception of the world by enfolding his readers, through a variety of means, within the intricate workings of his narrative. It centers around would be heroine Oedipa Maas whose life is turned upside down when she discovers that she has been made executor of the estate of old flame and entrepreneur Pierce Inverarity. When she is imposed upon to travel to the fictional city of San Narcisco, where Inverarity is said to have numerous real estate holdings, in order to carry out her task, Oedipa stumbles upon a muted post horn; the first of many clues leading her deep into the impenetrable conspiracy surrounding Trystero, an underground postal system shrouded in mystery and intrigue; opening her eyes to an alternative way of life. This post modern work of literature infuses dark humor and irony instigating a metamorphosis of intellectually challenging material; subsequently luring us, his readers who have unknowingly become a part of the conspiracy, into the methodical chaos of The Crying of Lot 49.
Well known for incorporating the basic ideas of philosophy and physics into all of his writings, Pynchon states that the "measure of the world is its entropy" (The Grim Phoenix, pg.2); an assertion that extends into the worlds he has created within the covers of his books. The structure of observation that Pynchon has constructed for the viewing of his creation has two distinct levels focused on those of his characters, particularly Oedipa Maas, who's world is restricted to the confines of the composition and also that of the reader who stands on the outside looking in; but who is also affected by (h...
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... our inability to interact personally with the characters in the book, are bound to a bewildered cicerone who cannot see well enough to point us in the right direction.
Although Oedipa never uncovers' the hidden truth as to whether or not there really exist a statewide conspiracy involving Trystero, in the end she gives herself over to the paranoia innate to never knowing for sure. Like the reader she has come to the conclusion that it would be a better practice to know that she's paranoid and accept it as a part of life in that society, then to deny its existence and live in doubt for the rest of her life. Choosing to embrace the new self she has unearthed in her journey, like the reader Oedipa is reintroduced to the world at large and with eyes wide open.
Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 1965.