Study Guide

The Crying of Lot 49 Quotes

  • Versions of Reality

    Into the mixing of the twilight's whiskey sours against the arrival of her husband, Wendell ("Mucho") Maas from work, she wondered, wondered, shuffling back through a fat deckful of days which seemed (wouldn't she be first to admit it?) more or less identical, or all pointing the same way subtly like a conjurer's deck, any odd one readily clear to a trained eye. (1.2)

    What does the phrase "a fat deckful of days" suggest about the way that Oedipa perceives the passage of time? Why does she sense that she is living a day in a "conjurer's deck"? Does this have a basis in reality or it just part of her imagination?

    A number of frail girls with heart-shaped faces, huge eyes, spun-gold hair, prisoners in the top room of a circular tower, embroidering a kind of tapestry which spilled out the slit windows and into a void, seeking hopelessly to fill the void: for all the other buildings and creatures, all the waves, ships and forests of the earth were contained in this tapestry, and the tapestry was the world. (1.55)

    What does Remedios Varo's painting suggest about the nature of Oedipa's time in Mexico? What does it suggest about Oedipa's later struggle with the Tristero?

    It's all part of a plot, an elaborate seduction, plot. (2.31)

    Why does Oedipa think of a plot as "an elaborate seduction"? How will her suspicion of Metzger later latch on to the Tristero? Is Pynchon trying to give the reader a hint here about how plot functions in Lot 49?

    "Manny Di Presso, a one-time lawyer who quit his firm to become an actor. Who in this pilot plays me, an actor become a lawyer reverting periodically to being an actor. The film is in an air-conditioned vault at one of the Hollywood studios, light can't fatigue it, it can be repeated endlessly." (2.48)

    How can Manny Di Presso keep track of when he is "acting" and when he is being a "lawyer"? Is there a difference?

    The can knew where it was going, she sensed, or something fast enough, God or a digital machine, might have computed in advance the complex web of its travel. (2.78)

    How does Oedipa tend to explain and understand complexity in the novel? Why does she link "God" and "digital machines"? Is she equating the two, or simply comparing them?

    That's what haunted her most, perhaps: the way it fitted, logically, together. As if (as she'd guessed that first minute in San Narciso) there were revelation in progress all around her. (3.1)

    What is this recurrent sense Oedipa has that she is surrounded by revelation, but not privy to it? Isn't it natural for things to fit logically together? Why is Oedipa surprised by this?

    They'd never heard it that way. Went on warming their hands at an invisible fire. Oedipa, to retaliate, stopped believing in them. (5.82)

    At this point in the novel, how stable is Oedipa's mind? Do you believe in the children in Golden Gate Park? Is it possible to tell if Oedipa is actually seeing children, if she is dreaming, or if she is hallucinating?

    "You know what a miracle is. Not what Bakunin said. But another world's intrusion into this one [...] An anarchist miracle. Like your friend. He is too exactly and without flaw the thing we fight." (5.88)

    How does Arrabal's story function as a parable about Oedipa's own quest? Are there other "miracles" in Lot 49?

    "Has it ever occurred to you, Oedipa, that somebody's putting you on? That this is all a hoax, maybe something Inverarity set up before he died?" (6.98)

    Do you think that Fallopian is right? Is there any way to tell? Why hasn't Oedipa considered this possibility more seriously?

    "Or a plot has been mounted against you [...] so labyrinthine that it must have meaning beyond a practical joke." (6.116)

    Why does the complexity of the plot imply that it must have meaning? What is the relationship between complexity and meaning in Lot 49?

  • Visions of America

    San Narciso lay further south, near L.A. Like many named places in California it was less an identifiable city than a grouping of concepts—census tracts, special purpose bond-issue districts, shopping nuclei, all overlaid with access roads to its own freeway. (2.2)

    What is the relationship between geography and legal entities that we call cities? Is this relationship more arbitrary in America than elsewhere?

    "Who cares? We don't try to make scripture out of it. Naturally that's cost us a lot of support in the Bible Belt, where we might've been expected to go over real good. The old Confederacy." (3.22)

    How is Pynchon poking fun at extremist American right-wing groups through the character of Mike Fallopian?

    Turned out Fallopian was doing a history of private mail delivery in the U.S., attempting to link the Civil War to the postal reform movement that had begun around 1845 [...] He saw it as a parable of power, its feeding, growth, and systematic abuse, though he didn't go into it that far with her, that particular night. (3.54)

    Why would the great postal reform movement coincide with the Civil War? Who would have been more opposed to a government monopoly on mail: the North or the South?

    For here were God knew how many citizens, deliberately choosing not to communicate by US Mail. It was not an act of treason, nor possibly even of defiance. But it was a calculated withdrawal, from the life of the Republic, from its machinery. Whatever else was being denied them out of hate, indifference to the power of their vote, loopholes, simple ignorance, this withdrawal was their own, unpublicized, private. (5.102)

    Does this withdrawal strike you as something that could actually happen in America? Do you think the American underground is bothered that the government (had) a monopoly on the means of communication? Where is the seed of truth in Pynchon's crazy conspiracy theory?

    You have stumbled [...] onto a network by which X number of Americans are truly communicating whilst reserving their lies, recitations of routine, arid betrayals of spiritual poverty, for the official government delivery system; maybe even onto a real alternative to the exitlessness, to the absence of the surprise to life, that harrows the head of everybody American you know. (6.116)

    What is this "exitlessness" that Oedipa sees in America? Is she simply attaching her own personal problems to a vision of the Republic? What does this sense of "the absence of the surprise to life" say about America going into the 1960s?

    She turned, pivoting on one stacked heel, could find no mountains either. As if there could be no barriers between herself and the rest of the land. San Narciso at that moment lost (the loss pure, instant, spherical, the sound of a stainless orchestral chime held among the stars and struck lightly), gave up its residue of uniqueness for her; became a name again, was assumed back into the American continuity of crust and mantle. (6.143)

    At the end of the novel, the significance of the Tristero quickly moves beyond San Narciso to America as a whole. What causes Oedipa to have this revelation so suddenly? Is it believable?

    San Narciso was a name, an incident among our climactic records of dreams and what dreams became among our accumulated daylight, a moment's squall-line or tornado's touchdown among the higher, more continental solemnities—storm-systems of group suffering and need, prevailing winds of affluence. There was the true continuity, San Narciso had no boundaries. No one knew yet how to draw them. She had dedicated herself, weeks ago, to making sense of what Inverarity had left behind, never suspecting that the legacy was America. (6.144)

    How is Oedipa moving away from the obsession with the Tristero conspiracy here? Does her sense of compassion for the American dispossessed seem new? What do you make of her characterization of the American population: "storm-systems of group suffering and need"?

    What was left to inherit? That America coded in Inverarity's testament, whose was that? (6.147)

    How does Inverarity's will "encode" a vision of America? What vision of America is Oedipa trying to articulate here, and what is its relationship to the Tristero? How important is the idea of inheritance to our American vision?

    For there either was some Tristero beyond the appearance of the legacy America, or there was just America and if there was just America then it seemed the only way she could continue, and manage to be at all relevant to it, was as an alien, unfurrowed, assumed full circle into some paranoia. (6.148)

    Why would the existence of Tristero keep Oedipa from feeling like "an alien"? What causes Oedipa to feel so distanced from mainstream America? To what extent is her sense of alienation a product of the 1960s? Is this paranoid vision of America still relevant today?

  • Language and Communication

    Though she knew even less about radios than about Southern Californians, there were to both outward patterns a hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate. (2.2)

    Is Oedipa able to distinguish between things that actually have meaning and those that only give a sense of it? How does this quote anticipate later events in the book?

    Like all their inabilities to communicate, this too had a virtuous motive. (3.3)

    Why doesn't Oedipa press Mucho on his infatuation with young girls? How does this allow their marriage to function? How can the decision not to communicate have a "virtuous motive"?

    Off the coast of either what is now Carmel-by-the-Sea, or what is now Pismo Beach, around noon or possibly toward dusk, the two ships sighted each other. One of them may have fired, if it did then the other responded; but both were out of range so neither showed a scar afterward to prove anything. (3.21)

    What do you think Pynchon is trying to say about history and the way it is told? Does it only apply to a nut-job like Mike Fallopian, or can it be applied to the study of history at large?

    It is at about this point in the play, in fact, that things really get peculiar, and a gentle chill, an ambiguity, begins to creep in among the words. Heretofore the naming of names has gone on either literally or as metaphor. But now, as the Duke gives his fatal command, a new mode of expression takes over. It can only be called a ritual reluctance. (3.125)

    Does Oedipa's ability to detect the "ambiguity" in the play suggest that she is becoming a better literary critic? How does the "reluctance" to say the word Tristero give it power in Oedipa's mind?

    "The words, who cares? They're rote noises to hold line bashes with, to get past the bone barriers around an actor's memory, right? But the reality is in this head. Mine." (3.167)

    Is Driblette telling Oedipa something significant about the relationship between playwrights, directors, and their audience? How much is his opinion shaped by his ego, and how much is it shaped by honest observation?

    "Entropy is a figure of speech, then, a metaphor. It connects the world of thermodynamics to the world of information flow. The Machine uses both. The Demon makes the metaphor not only verbally graceful, but also objectively true." (5.18)

    Check out our "Symbols, Images, Allegory" section and read up on entropy in thermodynamics and in communication theory. Is Nefastis actually on to something, or is he just nutso? How does the metaphor allow the two concepts to at least seem to fit together? How does this apply to Oedipa's quest to discover the Tristero?

    The act of metaphor then was a thrust at truth and a lie, depending where you were: inside, safe, or outside, lost. (5.124)

    What is the grand metaphor of Lot 49? Is Oedipa inside or outside of it? Is Pynchon simply playing literary games here, or do we have grand metaphors in our own lives as well?

    She knew that the sailor had seen worlds no other man had seen if only because there was that high magic to low puns, because DT's must give access to dt's of spectra beyond the known sun, music made purely of Antarctic loneliness and fright. (5.124)

    Has Oedipa lost it?! What is this relationship she suggests between "high magic" and "low puns"? How does Lot 49 itself operate using "high magic" and "low puns"? What can one possibly learn from a pun?

    Squatters [...] swung among a web of telephone wires, living in the very copper rigging and secular miracle of communication, untroubled by the dumb voltages flickering their miles, the night long, in the thousands of unheard messages. (6.147)

    How is Lot 49 a book about the "secular miracle of communication"? Does Oedipa confuse the means of communication here— "the very copper rigging" —with communication itself? If so, does this tendency appear anywhere else in the book?

    Another mode of meaning behind the obvious, or none. (6.148)

    To what extent is Oedipa's quest for "meaning" a language problem? How do words play tricks on Oedipa throughout the book? How can language make us believe in things that may or may not exist?

  • Technology and Modernization

    Even if enough exposure to the unvarying gray sickness had somehow managed to immunize him, he could still never accept the way each owner, each shadow, filed in only to exchange a dented, malfunctioning version of himself for another, just as futureless, automotive projection of someone else's life. (1.12)

    How does Mucho view the relationship between men and their cars? Is this just the raving of a depressive or is there some truth to the vision? Would it be different if he worked at a new-car dealership?

    This was San Narciso's big source of employment, the Galactronics Division of Yoyodyne, Inc., one of the giants of the aerospace industry. Pierce, she happened to know, had owned a large block of shares, had been somehow involved in negotiating an understanding with the county tax assessor to lure Yoyodyne here in the first place. It was part, he explained, of being a founding father. (2.3)

    How important has technology become to America? How important has it always been? To what extent do real-life companies like Yoyodyne control the way that America functions?

    She heard commercials chasing one another into and out of the speaker of the TV. She grew more and more angry, perhaps juiced, perhaps only impatient for the movie to come back on. (2.66)

    How does the television mediate Oedipa's relationship with Metzger? How do they get to know each other through watching television?

    "You know the Nefastis machine? Well this was invented by John Nefastis, who's up at Berkeley now. John's somebody who still invents things. Here. I have a copy of the patent." (3.15)

    Why is Koteks so obsessed with patents? What does his obsession reveal about the nature of invention? Is it true that individual scientists don't invent things anymore?

    He went on to tell how the Nefastis machine contained an honest-to-God Maxwell's Demon. All you had to do was stare at the photo of Clerk Maxwell, and concentrate on which cylinder, right or left, you wanted the Demon to raise the temperature in. The air would expand and push a piston. (3.19)

    Is Koteks nuts? How can he so easily mix real science and mysticism? What might we make of the fact that this is the best invention he can come up with?

    Metzger had been listening to the car radio. She got in and rode with him for two miles before realizing that the whimsies of nighttime reception were bringing them KCUF down from Kinneret, and that the disk jockey talking was her husband, Mucho. (3.174)

    How does technology affect Oedipa's conscience? Does this scene explain why she often senses that the means of communication around her are trying—themselves—to communicate something?

    She did gather that there were two distinct kinds of entropy. One having to do with heat-engines, the other to do with communication. The equation for one, back in the '30s, had looked very like the equation for the other. It was a coincidence. The two fields were entirely unconnected, except at one point: Maxwell's Demon. As the Demon sat and sorted his molecules into hot and cold, the system was said to lose entropy. But somehow the loss was offset by the information the Demon gained about what molecules were where. (5.17)

    How do entropy and Maxwell's Demon come to function as metaphors in the novel? What do you make of the fact that Pynchon appropriates scientific concepts to act as metaphors in his work? Does it bother you that he might misrepresent them in the process? What is the relationship between science and literature?

    "Nearly three weeks it takes him to decide. You now how long it would've taken the IBM 7094? Twelve micro-seconds. No wonder you were replaced." (5.71)

    What does this hilarious vignette suggest about how men have come to relate to technology in the middle of the twentieth century? Is it the technology itself that is dehumanizing or simply the way that the efficiency expert treats the ex-executive?

    […] God help this old tattooed man, meant also a time differential, a vanishingly small instant in which change had to be confronted at last for what it was, where it could no longer disguise itself as something innocuous like an average rate; where velocity dwelled in the projectile though the projectile be frozen in midflight, where death dwelled in the cell though the cell be looked in on at its most quick. (5.124)

    What connection does Pynchon draw between Delirium Tremens and a time differential in calculus? Is this connection justified? How do scientific and mathematical concepts come to function in Oedipa's imagination?

    For it was now like walking among matrices of a great digital computer, the zeroes and ones twinned above, hanging like balanced mobiles right and left, ahead, thick, maybe endless. (6.148)

    Why does Oedipa have this sensation at this moment? Why do you think she settles on the imagery of a "digital computer" to explain how she is feeling?

  • Sexuality and Sexual Identity

    Roseman tried to play footsie with her under the table. She was wearing boots, and couldn't feel much of anything. So, insulated, she decided not to make any fuss. (1.97)

    Is sex always depicted as absurd in the novel? Why do all of the male characters come on to Oedipa? Why doesn't she make a fuss?

    The face of the nymph was much like Oedipa's, which didn't startle her so much as a concealed blower system that kept the nymph's gauze chiton in constant agitation, revealing enormous vermilion-tipped breasts and long pink thighs at each flap. She was smiling a lipsticked and public smile, not quite a hooker's but nowhere near that of any nymph pining away with love either. (2.5)

    Is this an exaggeration of the way that women are portrayed in society or is it accurate? What is the point of Pynchon's parody?

    Oedipa picked up the nearest weapon, which happened to be the rabbit-ear antenna off the TV in the corner. "Oh," said Miles, "You hate me too." Eyes bright through his bangs. (2.10)

    What is wrong with Miles? Why do all the men around Oedipa assume that she is interested?

    Her climax and Metzger's, when it came, coincided with every light in the place, including the TV tube, suddenly going out, dead, black. (2.106)

    What do you make of this comic and overdone sexual encounter? Does sex seem to give Oedipa a sense of release?

    "That you wouldn't be easy." (2.110)

    Why does Metzger tell Oedipa this? To what extent do you think he is actually interested in her, and to what extent was he simply trying to prove Inverarity wrong? Why does this make Oedipa cry?

    Would then proceed at a KCUF record hop to look out again across the gleaming gym floor and there in one of the giant keyholes inscribed for a basketball see, groping her vertical backstroke a little awkward opposite any boy heels might make an inch taller than, a Sharon, Linda or Michele, seventeen and what is known as a hip one, whose velveted eyes ultimately, statistically would meet Mucho's and respond, and the thing would develop then groovy as it could when you found you couldn't get statutory rape really out of the back of your law-abiding head. (3.3)

    What do you make of the fact that Oedipa can so graphically imagine how her husband takes advantage of underage girls? Why isn't she bothered by it? Why are all the men in the book obsessed with young girls? What is Pynchon parodying?

    "Have sexual intercourse Maybe there'll be something about China tonight. I like to do it while they talk about Viet Nam, but China is best of all. You think about all those Chinese. Teeming. That profusion of life. It makes it sexier, right." (5.31)

    What do you make of Nefastis's perversity? What is the link between sexual intercourse and the violence in Vietnam? Or China, for that matter?

    "My big mistake was love. From this day I swear to stay off of love: hetero, homo, bi, dog or cat, car, every kind there is. I will found a society of isolates, dedicated to this purpose, and this sign, revealed by the same gasoline that almost destroyed me, will be its emblem." (5.71)

    What is Inamorati Anonymous parodying? How did the IM founder decide that his mistake was love? Why is it ironic that he is the only man Oedipa can ultimately reach out to? And can you be addicted to love?

    Despair came over her, as it will when nobody has any sexual relevance to you. (5.76)

    Is there truth in this aphorism? Is there some sexism in how Pynchon imagines that Oedipa's mind works?

    Metzger and Serge's chick had run off to Nevada, to get married. Serge, on close questioning, admitted the bit about the eight-year-old was so far only imaginary, but that he was hanging diligently around playgrounds and should have some news for them any day. (6.6)

    Again: Why are all the men in the book obsessed with young girls? What has Serge learned from Metzger? Where does Pynchon suggest this tendency will lead?

  • Drugs and Alcohol

    "I don't know what's inside them." (1.25)

    Why doesn't Oedipa trust Hilarius or his drugs? If she had taken them, how might it change your perception of what is real and what is not? Why are so many men trying to drug Oedipa?

    "We still need a hundred-and-fourth for the bridge." Chuckled aridly. The bridge, die Brucke, being his pet name for the experiment he was helping the community hospital run on effects of LSD-25, mescaline, psilocybin, and related drugs on a large sample of suburban housewives. The bridge inward. (1.28)

    How is this a real reflection of what was going on in the 1960s? How crazy is it that Oedipa's therapist is trying to talk her into doing LSD?

    What the road really was, she fancied, was this hypodermic needle, inserted somewhere ahead into the vein of a freeway, a vein nourishing the mainliner L.A., keeping it happy, coherent, protected from pain, or whatever passes, with a city, for pain. (2.4)

    What does a highway entering a city have in common with a vein being shot up with drugs to keep the individual happy? Why do you think Oedipa is drawn to this drug imagery?

    "Another bottle tonight would put you to sleep. No." (2.65)

    What does this reveal about how Metzger is using alcohol? Why do you think Oedipa goes along with it?

    The time in between had been whiled away with songs by the Paranoids, and juicing, and feeding pieces of eggplant sandwich to a flock of not too bright seagulls who'd mistaken Fangoso Langoons for the Pacific, and hearing the plot of The Courier's Tragedy, by Richard Wharfinger, related near to unintelligible by eight memories unlooping progressively into regions as strange to map as their rising coils and clouds of pot smoke. (3.113)

    How does the shape of this sentence capture the confusion Oedipa feels at listening to the narrator's pot-affected narration of The Courier's Tragedy?

    At some indefinite passage in night's sonorous score, it also came to her that she would be safe, that something, perhaps only her linearly fading drunkenness, would protect her. (5.79)

    How does the fact that Oedipa is drunk for much of her night in San Francisco affect how you perceive events? Explain the illusion she senses that her drunkenness will protect her? Does that explain why she got drunk in the first place?

    "You know, with the LSD, we're finding, the distinction begins to vanish. Egos lose their sharp edges." (5.165)

    Considering his own predicament, why do you think Hilarius might be so interested in LSD if this is really its effect?

    "Day by day, Wendell is less himself and more generic. He enters a staff meeting and the room is suddenly full of people, you know? He's a walking assembly of man." (6.202)

    Does this seem to contradict the popular notion that doing drugs somehow makes one unique? That it is a way to rebel? What do you make of the fact that it actually makes Wendell more generic?

    "You don't get addicted. It's not like you're some hophead. You take it because it's good. Because you hear and see things, even smell them, taste like you never could. Because the world is so abundant. No end to it, baby. You're an antenna, sending your pattern out across a million lives a night, and they're your lives too." (6.320)

    Does it seem to you that drugs have made Wendell happy? If so, what is wrong with the fact that he takes them?

    The day she'd left him for San Narciso was the day she'd seen Mucho for the last time. (5.323)

    Here, as elsewhere in the book, drugs are seen to sever human relationships. Do you think the book has a positive or a negative view of drug use? Is it possible to tell?

  • Isolation

    The sight of sawdust, even pencil shavings, made him wince, his own kind being known to use it for hushing sick transmissions. (1.11)

    How does Mucho become isolated from the world around him through his own self-loathing?

    A salad of despair, in a gray dressing of ash, condensed exhaust, body wastes. (1.12)

    What causes Mucho to view used automobiles this way? What does this view tell us about his own sense of loneliness and isolation?

    "Think of it. […] A whole underworld of suicides who failed. All keeping in touch through that secret delivery system. What do they tell each other?" (5.75)

    How is the Tristero meant to isolate the aliens, the dispossessed, the sick and the lonely? If that is what it actually does, is it such a bad thing?

    She was overcome all at once by a need to touch him, as if she could not believe in him, or would not remember him, without it. (5.107)

    Why is Oedipa so drawn to the tattooed sailor? Is it just that she feels isolated from other human beings or that she feels isolated from reality itself?

    "In the dream I'd be going about a normal day's business and suddenly, with no warning, there'd be the sign. We were a member of the National Automobile Dealers' Association. N.A.D.A. Just this creaking metal sign that said nada, nada against the blue sky. I used to wake up hollering." (5.322)

    There are not too many fully drawn realistic characters in Lot 49: Does Mucho's terror seem real or silly? Does it explain why he turned to LSD to escape the feeling?

    They are stripping from me she said subvocally—feeling like a fluttering curtain in a very high window, moving up to then out over the abyss—they are stripping away, one by one, my men. (6.41)

    Who is "they"? What do you make of the fact that Oedipa is systematically abandoned by every significant man in her life as the novel winds to a close?

    Oedipa sat on the earth, ass getting cold, wondering whether, as Driblette had suggested that night from the shower, some version of herself hadn't vanished with him. Perhaps her mind would go on flexing psychic muscles that no longer existed; would be betrayed and mocked by a phantom self as the amputee is by a phantom limb. (6.81)

    Why do you think Oedipa is so drawn to Driblette? How do people live on in our memories after we lose them, like "a phantom limb"?

    "Because it may be a practical joke for you, but it stopped being one for me a few hours ago. I got drunk and went driving on these freeways. Next time I may be more deliberate. For the love of God, human life, whatever you respect, please Help me." (6.138)

    Why is it that the only person Oedipa can reach out to at the end of the novel is the anonymous Inamorati Anonymous member, a man trying to kick the addiction to love?

    She stood between the public booth and the rented car, in the night, her isolation complete, and tried to face the sea. But she'd lost her bearings. (6.143)

    How did Oedipa get to this position? Why is it only now that she can have the realization she does about the nature of America?

    San Narciso was a name; an incident among our climactic records of dreams and what dreams became among our accumulated daylight, a moment's squall-lie or tornado's touchdown among the higher, more continental solemnities—storm-systems of group suffering and need, prevailing winds of affluence. (6.144)

    How does Oedipa's own predicament inform her vision of what America is? Why do you think she describes mass "suffering and need" in terms of climactic movements?

  • Madness

    Hanging in the air over her bed she now beheld the well-known portrait of Uncle that appears in front of all our post offices, his eyes gleaming unhealthily, his sunken yellow cheeks most violently rouged, his finger pointing between her eyes. I want you. She had never asked Dr. Hilarius why, being afraid of all he might answer. (1.30)

    What do you make of the fact that Oedipa has hallucinations related to post offices before she even gets the first hint of the Tristero conspiracy?

    He claimed to have once cured a case of hysterical blindness with his number 37, the "Fu-Manchu" (many of the faces having like German symphonies both a number and nickname), which involved slanting the eyes up with the index fingers, enlarging the nostrils with the middle fingers, pulling the mouth wide with the pinkies and protruding the tongue. On Hilarius it was truly alarming. (1.37)

    Is Hilarius the craziest character in the book? How is Pynchon satirizing psychoanalysis here?

    Oedipa nodded. She couldn't stop watching his eyes. They were a bright black, surrounded by an incredible network of lines, like a laboratory maze for studying intelligence in tears. They seemed to know what she wanted, even if she didn't. (3.150)

    Does Oedipa's fascination with Driblette's eyes seem natural, or does reality seem to be morphing under her gaze? Does this happen more and more as the book goes on?

    Except right here, where Oedipa Maas, with a thousand other people to choose from, had had to walk uncoerced into the presence of madness. (4.20)

    Is Koteks insane? How else can you explain his inability to distinguish science and mysticism? What would make a good engineer believe in Nefastis?

    This night's profusion of post horns, this malignant, deliberate replication, was their way of beating up. They knew her pressure points, and the ganglia of her optimism, and one by one, pinch by precision pinch, they were immobilizing her. (5.101)

    When does Oedipa start using the word "They"? How else can she describe her sense of the Tristero? Does her fascination that this entire conspiracy is being constructed for her smack of narcissism or truth?

    She might well be in the cold and sweatless meathooks of a psychosis. (5.128)

    How could Oedipa possibly tell the difference between a psychosis and her experience during her night in San Francisco? How can the reader tell the difference? Is it important that we are able to?

    "I worked on experimentally-induced insanity. A catatonic Jew was as good as a dead one." (5.177)

    What might Pynchon be saying about his view about the practice of psychiatry by revealing Hilarius as a Nazi? What character does drug use take on after this revelation?

    Possibilities for paranoia become abundant. (6.88)

    Is paranoia always unhealthy in Lot 49? Given Oedipa's situation, is it necessary?

    She didn't like any of them, but hoped she was mentally ill; that that's all it was. (6.117)

    Why do you think Oedipa hopes she is "mentally ill"? How would that be a relief given the other options?

    The toothaches got worse, she dreamed of disembodied voices from whose malignance there was no appeal, the soft dusk of mirrors out of which something was about to walk, and empty rooms that waited for her. Your gynecologist has no test for what she was pregnant with. (6.127)

    As in the beginning of the novel, we learn that Oedipa hallucinates. How does her unhealthy mental state make it difficult for the narrator to navigate the novel? Is there any way to tell what is real and what is not?