What Is Oedipa's Search For Truth?

Decent Essays
Detective fiction works from Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” to Chandler’s Chandler’s The Big Sleep contain the common theme of searching for the truth or solution. Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 is no different, as the main character Oedipa struggles to figure out the mystery that is Tristero. However, unlike other detective fiction novels, she doesn’t solve the mystery despite her persistent search for order and truth. Additionally, much of the narrative is chaotic and unpredictable, differing from other stories with patterns and answers. Hence, Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 illustrates a detective character failing in her search for truth, deviating from common rules and structure, to further highlight the crazy, paranoid society…show more content…
The deviance from detective rules contributes to the chaotic nature and disordered society Oedipa is living in. For instance, of the novels read this quarter, all included an answer to a crime or a solution to a mystery. Characters like Phillip Marlowe and even Robert Reun are able to string together events and clues, a staple of detective fiction. Oedipa is the one detective who doesn’t find answers, as Pynchon writes, “Either Trystero did exist, in its own right, or it was being presumed, perhaps fantasied by Oedipa, so hung up on and interpenetrated with the dead man's estate” (88). The question regarding whether the Tristero is real or not continues throughout the narrative, never having a definite answer. Additionally, S.S. Van Dine writes on detective stories, “The truth of the problem must be at all times apparent…” (“Some Notes on Poe”) This, of course, is not true in the Crying of Lot 49, because both Oedipa and the reader aren’t sure if the Tristero is imagined or reality. Therefore, the unsolvable case and its questionability reinforces themes of confusion and craziness within Oedipa’s world. The more she tries to establish order, more questions emerge, drastically differing from most detective rules and
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