The Crying of Lot 49 was published by Thomas Pynchon in 1966. To summarize, the story is about a woman, Oedipa Maas, who may be discovering a centuries old argument between two mail companies, Thurn and Taxis and the Tristero. Pynchon utilizes deep insight into the direction of American society in the 1960s surrounding questions regarding human communication and human conspiracies. By placing focus on the cultural desires for sex and money in a nation deeply engrossed in luxury and filth, Pynchon calls attention to the dark side of human relations, especially regarding the breakdown of romance and intimate communication between man and woman.
Over a backdrop of drug use, unethical professional practices, adultery, and the tasteless filth of meaningless sex, Pynchon carries the reader through a cynical and absurd tale of a woman chasing what may be an empty conspiracy theory. Communication The communication in this story often revolves around meaningless activities and meaningless topics. Pynchon appears to accurately nail the fact that the American culture during the 1960s was rife with confusion, rage, emptiness, splintering families, the breakdown of romance, and the lies and confusion which permeate capitalist cultures.
Meaningless activities such as group sex and marital infidelity surface within the novel and the life of Oedipa, just as meaningless words, organizations, and symbols float around her environment and cause her such confusion. Doctors are giving drugs to patients, just as husbands are becoming junkies. The conversations have no significant meaning, because the central relationship between roles, such as doctor and patient, and husband and wife, are dirtied by the lies which spring from capitalist money grubbing and the rock and roll free sex and drugs culture.
Oedipa is caught is a directionless search for the Tristero organization, just as her life in general has become empty and without love and meaning. Conspiracy The eruption of paranoia within the novel springs directly from cultural ideas about sexuality and romance. Because there is no true self devotion of man to woman, life becomes fearful and uncertain. Even the symbol of the muted horn itself can be viewed as an expression of capitalism, of man over woman, and serves to confuse Oedipa even more.
Laying the path for further speculation is the W. A. S. T. E organization, as Oedipa roams California is search of the meaning behind Tristero and the supposed rivalry between the mail companies. It becomes increasingly apparent that Oedipa’s life is full of unrealized hope and perpetual confusion, as she repeatedly confronts the reality of not finding what she seeks. She is also increasingly fearful of the terrorizing influences in her life, such as her doctor who rages after her with a gun.
At the end of the novel, Oedipa is left hoping that she will discover something at the auction about the stamp collection she has inherited, and waits the crying of lot 49. Conclusion Pynchon appears to have crafted a novel with as much elegance as possible is aiming to imitate the darkest trends of American culture in the 1960s. In a story rife with lies, disappointments, drugs, and cheap sex, the main character Oedipa is carried through a highly unsatisfying life in the trenches of a meaningless search.
Driven by her own impulses to disproportionately value money, luxury, and empty relationships, she feels a fleeting sense of purpose in her quest to know and understand the feuding companies, yet the search in itself is without any central purpose. The purposelessness of activities in this novel center on the breakdown of communication and the rising sense of conspiracy within American culture. References Pynchon, T. (1966). The Crying of Lot 49.