The Crying of Lot 49

by: Thomas Pynchon

Chapter 5, Part II

Summary Chapter 5, Part II

Whereas mystery books tend to solve the unknown through the gradual presentation of more clues that cast small amounts of light on the questions at hand, this book seems to expand the unknown each time it presents more clues. For instance, although Oedipa seems to make an enormous amount of headway when she finds a W.A.S.T.E. mailbox and carrier, the fact that the carrier goes to Nefastis' house confuses her even more. Her night of wondering around brings her to see many more clues, but they only confuse her all the more, particularly when she has difficulty determining what really happened and what was imagined. It can be argued, then, that from a structural standpoint, each additional piece of information only expands the amount of unknown; in other words, the more we know, the more we know how much we do not know.

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