V. Metaphors and Similes

V. Metaphors and Similes

Physical Description

Pynchon’s talent for metaphor is undeniable, but like all his non-metaphorical imagery it can be dense and, for some readers difficult:

“Beside her sat at younger girl, whose skull was fissured such that three separate peaks, paraboloid in shape, protruded above the hair, which continued down either side of a densely acned face like a skipper’s beard.”

Funny Pynchon

Not all of Pynchon’s metaphorical physical description are densely packed and somewhat difficult to follow. Some are just funny:

“Profane, a dim figure looking like a quadruply-amputated octopus, stopped flailing around.”

What I Am

One of the metaphor-rich highlights of the books is one woman’s monologue of what she am—er—what she is:

“I am the twentieth century…the clockwork figure, the jazz saxophone, the tourist-lady's hairpiece, the fairy's rubber breasts…the dead palm tree, the Negro's dancing pumps, the dried fountain after tourist season. I am all the appurtenances of night.”

What They Are

Amazingly, in the same book where a woman declares herself to be a musical instrument, a tree, shoes and an entire century, there can also be found this quite succinct summing up an entire sex:

“…a woman is only half of something there are usually two sides to.”

The Wow Factor

Pynchon at his best, at his most controlled and precise and imaginative is simply stunning to read when it comes to metaphorical imagery. Of course, sometimes what is stunning is not necessarily widely accessible:

“Was he returning like the elephant to his graveyard, to lie down and soon become ivory in whose bulk slept, latent, exquisite shapes of chessmen, backscratchers, hollow open-work Chinese spheres nested one inside the other?”

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