72 pages 2 hours read

Thomas Pynchon

Gravity's Rainbow

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1973

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Part 3, Section 1

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3, Section 1 Summary: “In the Zone”

In May 1945, the war in Germany is over. Slothrop is in Germany, traveling with the displaced refugees to an underground rocket facility named Mittelwerke in Nordhausen in the Harz Mountains, where he plans to research more about the S-Gerät 11/00000. While riding a train, he reads the file on Laszlo Jamf that he acquired in Zurich—and he discovers that his own father, Broderick Slothrop, allowed Jamf to experiment on his young son in exchange for a scholarship at Harvard University. Slothrop, just a boy at that time, was codenamed Schwarzknabe (German for “black baby”) while his father was nicknamed Schwartzvater (German for “black father”). Slothrop vaguely recollects a strange, forbidden room where “something was done to him” (214). He remembers a strange smell and is convinced it is Imipolex G.

Feeling overwhelmed by the information, Slothrop leaves the carriage and climbs up onto the roof of the boxcar. Major Duane Marvy, who is already on the roof, complains about the Black German men who were riding on the train, and he hurls racial slurs at them. These men are Herero rocket technicians from former German colonies in Africa; one of them appears and, after wrestling with Marvy, throws him from the train.