47 pages 1 hour read

Thomas Pynchon


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1963

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Chapters 1-3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “In which Benny Profane, a schlemihl and human yo-yo, gets to an apocheir”

On Christmas Eve, 1955, Benny Profane happens to pass through Norfolk, Virginia. He has recently been discharged from the Navy, and while traveling “up and down the east coast like a yo-yo” (2), he decides to visit a familiar bar named the Sailor’s Grave. A fight is already in progress when he arrives; he is greeted by the barmaid Beatrice and complains that Ploy, a short, toothless man who is “always picking fights with the biggest people” (3), is the person who started the brawl. At the Sailor’s Grave, all the barmaids are called Beatrice, and every payday night, the bar hosts Suck Hour, where sailors suckle on the foam rubber breasts that are fitted to the beer taps. Ploy introduces Profane to Dewey Gland, who sings a song to commemorate Profane’s recent discharge. Pig Bodine, Profane’s former shipmate, interrupts the song. They discuss Paola Hod (nee Maijstral), a teenager from “the island of Malta” (4) who lied about her age to gain entry to America and is now working at the Sailor’s Grave. Bar owner Mrs. Buffalo announces the beginning of Suck Hour; “carnage” (6) breaks out until the police arrive. Profane, Pig, Ploy, Paola, and Dewey escape through the back of the bar.