72 pages 2 hours read

Thomas Pynchon

Gravity's Rainbow

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1973

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Character Analysis

Tyrone Slothrop

Tyrone Slothrop is the protagonist of Gravity’s Rainbow. The novel does not necessarily chart his descent into paranoid delusions, because paranoia is an important part of his life from an early age. Though Slothrop has repressed these childhood memories, he was subjected to experimentation by Laszlo Jamf after his father and uncle conspired to barter for a scholarship to Harvard University. These experiments’ ramifications are physical and psychological: Slothrop’s body responds to unknown stimuli with sexual arousal, while his mind seeks out conspiracies and agendas everywhere he looks. The novel therefore does not portray Slothrop’s successful escape from paranoia. Instead, his role as the protagonist is to drift through the Zone, exploring various iterations of his own character and the characters of others to illustrate how paranoia and delusion can shape a person’s life.

Throughout the novel, Slothrop passes through various identities. He changes his clothes often, and each new outfit becomes a different persona he can project into the world. He is Rocketman and the Pig-Hero, simply by changing his outfit. The identities’ fluidity reveals the extent to which he has become untethered from tradition and expectation. There is no longer any fixed version of Slothrop, only a diversely costumed amalgam of paranoid delusions and physical desires.