Chaos, structure, and salvation in the novels of Thomas Pynchon



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Thomas Pynchon's three novels, V., The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity's Rainbow, may seem chaotic but their thematic and structural qualities imply both unification and artistic integrity. Although the novels deal with the chaos which the modern age has brought to the West, there is nevertheless considerable order in them. In each, action and theme repeat and reinforce one another. In each, a perceptible narrative personality holds the story together. Each depends on parody for comic effect and frame-of-reference. Finally, each is ironic, pointing to disturbing similarities between what the world is and what a paranoid might imagine it to be. So, Pynchon's work is dynamic. Formally, it is coherent because it points not only to chaos but also to artistic order. Thematically, it is coherent because, just as Pynchon describes the disorder which has fallen upon us, he also describes the path to salvation.