The Crying of Lot 49


  • Oedipa Maas – The protagonist. After her ex-boyfriend, Pierce Inverarity, dies and she becomes co-executor of his estate, she discovers and begins to unravel what may or may not be a world conspiracy. The character Oedipus in Sophocles's Oedipus Rex unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother. Sigmund Freud believed that all healthy boys go through an emotional stage just before entering the developmental stage he called latency in which they wish to supplant their father in their mother's affections and Freud called this the "Oedipus complex". (The analogue for girls, the subject of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, he called the Electra complex.)
  • Pierce Inverarity – Oedipa's ex-boyfriend and a wealthy real-estate tycoon. The reader never meets him, all encounters are presented through Oedipa's memories. At the beginning of the novel he is dead and is said to have been extremely rich, having owned, at one time or another, a great deal of real property and holdings in California.
  • Wendell "Mucho" Maas – Oedipa's husband, Mucho once worked in a used-car lot but recently became a disc jockey for KCUF radio in Kinneret, California (a fictional town). Toward the end of the novel, the effects of his nascent LSD use alienate Oedipa.
  • Metzger – A lawyer who works for the Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus. He has been assigned to help Oedipa execute Pierce's estate. He and Oedipa have an affair.
  • Miles, Dean, Serge and Leonard – The four members of the band The Paranoids, American teenagers who sing with British accents.
  • Dr. Hilarius – Oedipa's psychiatrist, who prescribes LSD to Oedipa as well as other housewives (she does not take it). He goes crazy toward the end of the story, admitting to being a former Nazi doctor at Buchenwald concentration camp, where he worked in a program on experimentally induced insanity to render Jews permanently catatonic. He claims to use facial expressions as a weapon and boasts of a face he once made that drove a subject insane. He holes up in his office but is taken away peacefully by the police after Oedipa disarms him.
  • John Nefastis – A scientist obsessed with perpetual motion. He has tried to invent a type of Maxwell's demon to create a perpetual motion machine. Oedipa visits him to see the machine after learning about him from Stanley Koteks.
  • Stanley Koteks – An employee of Yoyodyne Corporation who knows something about the Trystero. Oedipa meets him when she wanders into his office while touring the plant.
  • Richard Wharfinger - author of The Courier's Tragedy
  • Randolph Driblette – A leading Wharfinger scholar and the director of The Courier's Tragedy seen by Oedipa and Metzger. Driblette commits suicide before Oedipa can extract information from him about Wharfinger's mention of the Trystero but meeting him spurs her to go on a quest to find the meaning behind Trystero.
  • Mike Fallopian – Oedipa and Metzger meet Mike Fallopian in The Scope, a bar frequented by Yoyodyne employees. He tells them about The Peter Pinguid Society. Oedipa searches him out again later.
  • Genghis Cohen – The most eminent philatelist in the Los Angeles area, Cohen was hired to inventory and appraise the deceased's stamp collection. Oedipa and he discuss stamps and forgeries.
  • Professor Emory Bortz – Formerly of Berkeley, now teaching at San Narciso, Bortz wrote the editor's preface in a version of Wharfinger's works. Oedipa tracks him down to learn more about Trystero.

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