Who’s the crier?

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?

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2 Responses to Who’s the crier?

  1. sph12 says:

    I have no idea who the crier could be. I also thought it would be kind of funny if, after everything Oedipa has been through, the crier turned out to be Pierce. I don’t think it would really matter though. Like we discussed in class today, I feel that even if the story continued, we would never really reach a conclusion or “ending”. This holds true for the ending as well and never having the mystery solved. I think Pynchon is showing that communication has failed and that our continual obsession with the random facts will not allow us to fix our communication problems. By leaving the ending so open ended, it is like Pynchon is proving that we are too obsessed with wondering who the crier is to realize that Oedipa is slowly losing communication with more and more of the people she used to have in her life. Furthermore, I think that by critiquing communication, Pynchon is implicating us as the cause rather than himself because he can see what we fail to acknowledge.

  2. youngdrake says:

    I personally thought the ending was the only way in which the novel could have concluded. To end it with a concrete cap would have ruined it and sent Oedipa back to the world in which she used to inhabit. By keeping the ending and the identity of her next clue ambiguous Pynchon has kept Oedipa suspended in her quest. Persuing the answer to her questions she is leading an eventful and fulfilling life, something that she was lacking back home with her husband. To end the quest would be to end her newfound purpose and once the quest is over the reader would then truely have to decide if oedipa were crazy or not. By not ending the story Pynchon is stating that the journey in itself is far more important than finding a satisfying ending and that to try and find or force an ending without regard for the story is pointless and frustrating.

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