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A Comparison of Crying of Lot 49 and White Noise Essay

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A Comparison of Crying of Lot 49 and White Noise

 
Pynchon's novel The Crying of Lot 49 has much in common with Don DeLillo's book White Noise. Both novels uncannily share certain types of characters, parts of plot structure and themes. The similarities of these two works clearly indicates a cultural conception shared by two influential and respected contemporary authors.

            Character similarities in the two novels are found in both the main characters and in some that are tangential to the plots. The two protagonists of the works, Oedipa Maas of Lot 49 and Jack Gladney of White Noise, are characters struggling to make sense of their worlds, and yet, both are afraid to face pure, filtered truth. Oedipa is inadvertently sent on a quest, which she embraces as a possible mechanism of bringing new meaning into world of tupperware parties. On her journey Oedipa is innundated with new and baffling information which she is either a series of clues to a counter culture or Pierce Inverarity's attempt to extend himself beyond his death. This dichotomy sets up the theme of binary opposites in novel. Oedipa's journey does not end in a final choice of one realm or the other, confirming one of the novel's other assertions, that excluded middles are "bad shit" ( J. Kerry Grant eloquently discusses Oedipa's journey in terms of binary opposites and a search for meaning in the introduction to his A Companion to "The Crying of Lot 49" (pp. xv-xvi)).

            Jack Gladney also involves himself and his family in a series of journeys, which are searches for safety and understanding, yet share Oedipa's focus on finding a new reason for existence. Jack and his wife Babbette are afraid of dying. Their worries, conversations,...


... middle of paper ...


...s comfort in bulk, Babette runs the stairs of a football stadium, and both become involved with the intensely neurotic Dylar conspiracy.

            The concept of enframing, the reducing of something to a representation which man produces and consumes, is prevalent in both these novels as well. In White Noise the most obvious examples are "The Most Photographed Barn in America" (pp.12-13) and Nature T.V., and in Lot 49 it can be seen in the man made lake, Lake Inverarity. Enframing is an example of both the possibility of a meta-conspiracy, and of mankind's attempt to shield himself from reality. The mass produced and readily consumable objects and ideas that appear in both novels are presented as being the possible result of a conspiracy to homogenize and control people, or an attempt by people to distance themselves from the real world and truth.

 


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