The final chapters of the Crying of Lot 49 introduce even more layers to the W.A.S.T.E. mystery. It seems that, unlike a traditional mystery novel which introduces more clues that gradually help to reveal the people and institutions behind the mystery, the more people who are introduced, the more confused we (the readers) and Oedipa feel. The sentence which struck me as the climax of Oedipa’s isolation appeared when she was at the gay bay – the aptly named “Greek Way.” “Despair came over her,” the text reads, “as it will when nobody around has any sexual relevance to you” (Pynchon 94). Up until this point, even characters that seemed relatively useless (such as Miles, the leader of the Paranoids, who believes that Oedipa desires to sleep with him) have at least some sexual relevancy – now that even shallow meaning has been stripped away from her life, Pynchon leaves his main character to a life of desolate isolation.
How did you feel about the ending? Does it matter that we never solve the mystery? What does the book say about self-knowledge vs. knowledge of the events which surround us?
Who do you think the crier is – Pierce himself? A new character that will denigrate Oedipa’s journey for knowledge even further? Is Pynchon’s point that, in a world where communicate is basically useless, it does not matter? By leaving the novel on such an esoteric note, what is Pynchon trying to say about how contemporary culture has contributed to communication breakdown? Is he implicating us or himself as the cause of this?