56 pages 1 hour read

Thomas Pynchon

The Crying of Lot 49

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1966

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Important Quotes

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“I don't believe in any of it, Oed.”

(Chapter 1, Page 3)

Mucho's first words in the novel address the deeply felt but difficult to express sense of alienation experienced by the characters in the novel. He has left one profession because he was too sincere and emotionally invested to lie to similarly unsatisfied people. Now that he is a radio DJ, however, little has changed. Mucho does not believe in his job, just as he more broadly does not believe in anything at all. He has nothing upon which he can focus his existence.

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“He could still never accept the way each owner, each shadow, filed in only to exchange a dented, malfunctioning version of himself for another, just as futureless, automotive projection of somebody else's life.”

(Chapter 1, Page 5)

When working as a car salesman, Mucho witnessed the churn of consumerism. People bought cars as an attempt to rectify a profound dissatisfaction with their existence. Advertisements and social cues had taught them that a new car would be a better expression of the identity that they wished to project into the world. They traded their old, dented, broken selves (as represented by the cars) for something new and exciting, only to feel the same familiar disappointment that this new identity still, somehow, was not right.

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“Roseman cherished a fierce ambivalence, wanting at once to be a successful trial lawyer like Perry Mason and, since this was impossible, to destroy Perry Mason by undermining him.”

(Chapter 1, Page 8)

Roseman understands his profession through the lens of television. The television character Perry Mason has created an unassailable status for lawyers, one which Roseman has tried and failed to match. He cannot live up to this impossible, fictional standard, so he dedicates his life to waging a war against an imagined enemy.