Imposing Meaning Upon Chaos—the Crying Lot of 49

Topics: Novel, The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon Pages: 4 (1204 words) Published: December 12, 2011
Imposing Meaning upon Chaos—The Crying Lot of 49

The Crying of Lot 49 explores cultural chaos and communication seen through the eyes of a young woman, Oedipa Maas, who finds herself caught in the tides of a suggested hallucinogenic world that appears to be disintegrating around her. Pynchon demonstrates, through characters and specific elements, the futility and frustration of attaching meaning to language and communication. One of the most effective ways in which Pynchon achieves the chaos and confusion is through Oedipa’s quest for knowledge and sense. The journey itself is a metaphor for human existence—the suggestion that our place as humans on earth is purely by chance, and we seek to find things to take as “signs” in order to validate that humans are purposed individuals and not accidental products of random science.

An example of how Pynchon’s representation of the way in which people impose interpretation on the meaningless is a way to force order into an environment that is unequivocally disordered. Oedipa is faced with all sorts of information and all sorts of imaginings, but she cannot easily determine what is real and what she should dismiss as the product of an overactive imagination. She is desperate for any sign of confirmation that there is a purpose for where she is in life. Pynchon displays her desperation as Oedipa goes to the ladies’ room during intermission—“she looked idly around for the symbol she’d seen the other night…but all the walls, surprisingly, were blank. She could not say why, exactly, but felt threatened by this absence of even the marginal try at communication latrines are known for” (Pynchon 53). The mention of “marginal communication” is indicative of Oedipa’s frustration with the lack thereof in her own life, and obsessive search for more information on the Trystero. The way Oedipa wants to turn the mystery of the Trystero into a "constellation," relates to the problem of communication theme....
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