The Chaotic World and the Entropic Crisis in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49

Document Type: Original Article


1 Kazeroon Islamic Azad University

2 Sheikhbahaee University


Having its roots in science, “chaos theory” provides a new strategy to examine the disordered world of postmodern novels to find the hidden order underlying the apparent chaos. This study tries to clarify the ambiguous relation between Oedipa Maas, the “Tristero system” and the “Maxwell’s Demon” in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. Oedipa Maas, the main character of the novel is regarded as an “everyman” type character who tries desperately to make sense of the signs and mysteries proliferating around her, but she can never fulfill her quest because she is trapped in a chaotic world where there are no stable values, friends or meanings. She feels separated from the world around her and longs to regain the stability she used to have before she started her task as the “executrix” of her former lover’s vast estate. She does not manage to find “order” in the surrounding chaos, but applying the major tenets of chaos theory and examining concepts such as “the butterfly effect”, “bifurcations”, “strange attractors”, “recursive symmetry” and “entropy” , we can come to a better understanding of the order underlying the disordered world of the novel.


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