The Crying of Lot 49 – Is the Truth Out There ? In a story as confusing and ambiguous as Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, it is difficult to connect any aspect of the book to a piece of modern culture. However, Oedipa’s quest, her search for the truth, and the paranoia therein, are inherent in the plots of today’s most-watched television and movies. Though many themes from the story can be tied to modern culture, perhaps the most prominent is the theme of a quest for truth. Oedipa’s quest is best represented via a popular FOX television show called The X-Files. At first sight, the comparison is almost too obvious. Agent Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovny, seeks the truth behind the apparent mystery of alien abduction and the supernatural, a quest that he dubs “the X-Files”. Oedipa, too, is looking for the truth underneath her mystery: WASTE. Both characters yearn for the truth behind events, a truth that may or may not exist, in mysteries that fold plots upon themselves endlessly. Beyond the obvious similarities, however, lie more, almost uncanny, parallels. Though both Mulder and Oedipa claim to seek the truth, what they both seek is resolution to the questions within themselves. For example, it is understood by fans of The X-Files that Mulder began his search for extraterrestrial life with the supposed alien abduction of his sister. The quest for the truth, then, is personalized for Agent Mulder, as he himself claims that he would not work as an FBI agent if his sister had not been [supposedly] abducted. Oedipa is on a personal quest as well. No other character in the story seeks the “truth” behind WASTE, the muted courier’s horn, the play The Courier’s Tragedy, Pierce Inverarity’s stamps, and a secret postal service. In fact, no one else has ever before made such a [possibly ridiculous] connection! So, as both characters seek their personal truths, they slowly begin to fear that no answer exists. The motives of these two seekers are important, and indeed similar. There seems to be an obsession to find a truth in symbols (be they horns or crop circles), a truth that both characters come to realize may not even exist. By definition, obsession is “a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling”. Therefore, the moment that their questions are absolved, the moment that their hypotheses are proved, the quest and its subsequent paranoia, frustration, and pain are removed. The motive is fear that the quest is unending, that there is no answer to the questions, and perhaps that there truly was no mystery to begin with. For each character, Mulder and Oedipa, this fear drives them in their personal quests for the truth. Many themes from The Crying of Lot 49 can be seen in modern culture, especially movies: paranoia in Conspiracy Theory and Enemy of the State, and Hilarius’s psycho-drug culture in Girl Interrupted. However, no movie or show ties so well to Oedipa’s quest as FOX’s The X-Files. Both Oedipa Maas and Fox Mulder seek personal truths, one based on a secret postal system, another on alien intervention in human life, but they hold more in common than it first appears. Maybe aliens are delivering mail behind the back of the US government.
Comparing A Lost Lady and Like Water for Chocolate
Comparing A Lost Lady and Like Water for Chocolate
The worlds about which Willa Cather and Laura Esquivel write hardly seen congruous. Written in different eras, in different styles, and in different cultures, Cather’s A Lost Lady and Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate appear, at first glance, to have little in common. Cather’s Victorian realism seems totally incompatible with Esquivel’s surrealistic imagery, and yet, if we look closely, we can find common threads woven between the two works. Although differences are obvious, subtle similarities exist in setting, conflict, and central characters.
The above excerpt is provided to give the student an idea of the focus of this essy. The complete essay begins below.
Imagine, for a moment, Marian Forrester in her kitchen preparing a tray for tea. As she works, her mind wanders to the letter she received in the post today from Frank Ellinger. “It’s been too long since Frank has been out from Denver,” she thinks as she glances out the window across the meadow, half expecting to see his form approaching. Instead, she sees in the distance an exotic form, a Spanish maiden, and in a cloud of dust a soldier approaches her.
Without slowing his gallop, so as not to waste a moment, he leaned over, put his arm around her waist, and lifted her onto the horse in front of him, face to face, and carried her away. The horse, which seemed to be obeying higher orders too, kept galloping as if it already knew their ultimate destination, even though Juan had thrown the reins aside and was passionately kissing and embracing Gertrudis. The movement of the horse combined with the movement of their bodies as they made love for the first time, at a gallop and with a great deal of difficulty. (Esquivel 55-56)
An unlikely scene in Mrs. Forrester’s Victorian world? The worlds about which Willa Cather and Laura Esquivel write hardly seen congruous. Written in different eras, in different styles, and in different cultures, Cather’s A Lost Lady and Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate appear, at first glance, to have little in common. Cather’s Victorian realism seems totally incompatible with Esquivel’s surrealistic imagery, and yet, if we look closely, we can find common threads woven between the two works. Although differences are obvious, subtle similarities exist in setting, conflict, and central characters.
Writing during the Victorian era, Cather chooses as the setting for her novel the prairie states of the United States at the turn of the century.