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GRAVITY'S RAINBOW: SUMMARY



Alec McHoul, Murdoch University

[Page references are to the Jonathan Cape/Viking editions of 1973. The first number in each sequence refers to one of the novel's four parts. The second number refers to the section - each section being marked off in the text by seven small squares (perhaps sprocket holes). Some sections have been split into smaller sub-sections. However, sub-sectional numbers are only used where either (a) the section is physically split by a blank line or (b) it is marked off by a definite title (such as "The Story of Byron the Bulb"). Titles of this sort are shown in quotation marks. Hence, the structure marked below corresponds very much to mechanical textual divisions. Occasionally time and scene changes are noted within sections or sub-sections.]

PART 1: BEYOND THE ZERO, pp1-177

1.1 Evacuation, an anonymous crowd scene (runs to p4) and could simply be part of Pirate's dream; Pirate Prentice rises in the morning, pp3-7.

1.2 The Banana Breakfast; Pirate's "condition"; the giant Adenoid, pp7-16.

1.3 Teddy Bloat photographs Slothrop's map, pp17-19.

1.4 Slothrop inspects the V2 site; details of his history, pp20-29.

1.5 Jessica Swanlake at the seance; the Mysterious Microfilm Drill; details of Jessica and Roger's relationship, pp29-37.

1.6 Roger Mexico and Jessica's life together; they go to Pointsman's to work on his dogs, pp37-42.

1.7 Pointsman hunts the dog; The Book, pp42-47.

1.8 Kevin Spectro and Pointsman discuss Slothrop; the octopus, pp47-53.

1.9 Mexico and Swanlake rise in the morning; Mexico at work; the two of them at home, pp53-60.

1.10 Slothrop under the truth-drug at PISCES; many recollective episodes, including the harmonica-down-the-toilet (pp62ff), the Kenosha Kid, the Crutchfield or Crouchfield episode (pp67ff), pp60-71.

1.11 Pirate and Scorpia "make love" (though it's not certain that it's Scorpia or that Pirate isn't just masturbating); section starts with material on Jamf's Kryptosam, pp71-72.

1.12 At the White Visitation; Pudding's briefing; the Le Froyd episode, pp72-83.

1.13 Slothrop's "condition" and theories thereof; most of the background on Jamf; plot material (esp. p84). (Some of this section runs like "critical theories of what GR is about" - some metafictional possibilities then.) The material on the explosion preceding the sound of the rocket falling and Slothrop's sexual encounters as a parallel pre-response, pp83-92.

1.14 Katje, Gottfried and Blicero. Includes Pirate's involvement with Katje; also the dodo episode with Frans van der Groov (pp108-111). Link between v.d. Groov and Prentice/Osbie feel is the preference for a rather uneconomic weapon. Section opens and closes with cinematic description - the Katje film, pp92-113.

1.15 Slothrop and Darlene, the Disgusting English Candy drill, pp114-120.

1.16.1 Mexico, Swanlake, sex, pp120-122.
1.16.2 Midget truck episode, pp122-123
1.16.3 Continuation of 1.16.1, pp123-124
1.16.4 Mexico finds Swanlake's hair in mysterious circumstances, pp124-126
1.16.5 Swanlake compares Mexico with Beaver, pp126-127
1.16.6 Christmas church service somewhere in Kent; includes the patient who WAS WWII, extended commentary on life, death and war, pp127-136.

1.17.1 "You" dream (where the dreamer may be Pointsman), pp136-138
1.17.2 Spectro's death, the White Visitation, pp138-140
1.17.3 Pointsman at night; p144 gives an insight into Pointsman's ways of "making sense" of things, pp140-144.

1.18 The particular gifts of the freaks at the White Visitation; on the science-ESP connection; on Jamf and the psychology- chemistry connection and the parts these play in the "ideology of the Zero" (p149); also St Blaise's vision and the Angel (p151). Weissmann (cf. V.) crops up (p152) - though not yet as "identical" with Blicero; the Sociology of the Other Side (p153); links to next section via mention of Leni Pokler, pp145-154.

1.19 Leni leaves her husband Franz and goes to live with a group of "revolutionaries"; Leni's history; her version of the world contrasted with Franz's scientistic/engineering view; connection between cinema/film and revolution, war, science; Kurt Mondaugen (cf. V.) turns up (p161); Jamf's scientific genealogy (p161) and Franz's involvement with it. From p163: the seance at Peter Sachsa's where the late foreign minister, Walter Rathenau, is contacted and makes predictions on the future of science (chemicals, dyes, rocketry, etc.), pp154-167.

1.20 Pointsman, Gwenhidwy, Christmas, children. Pointsman gets a blow job at the Christmas party; Gwenhidwy spills his theory of the City Paranoiac (p171), pp167-174.

1.21 Mexico and Swanlake at the latter's sister's house, Boxing Day 1944. The pantomime and its parallels with the Katje/Gottfried Oven episode (cf. 4.12.12); the Song of Death; Penelope (Jessica's niece) is visited by her father's ghost, perhaps, pp174-177.


PART 2: UN PERM' AU CASINO HERMANN GOERING, pp179-278

2.1 Slothrop, Mucker-Maffick and Bloat go to the beach, South of France, March 1945. The "set up" for Slothrop to rescue Katje from the octopus, pp181-189.

2.2 Porkyevitch out at sea with Grigori the octopus; Slothrop over 24 hours at the Casino with various scenes including that with Katje, the chase, the secret gaming room, more of Slothrop's history, pp189-205.

2.3 Slothrop with Katje and Sir Stephen Dodson-Truck - mostly plot material; includes Sir Stephen's Confession; Eventyr, Sachsa and Leni (p217ff) connected to the earlier scene via mention of Nora Dodson-Truck; back to the Casino - Sir Stephen disappears, pp205-226.

2.4 At the White Visitation, the Slothrop group, Webley's rat dance, Pudding and the Mistress of the Night (Katje?) where he gets his just dessert - some parallels between Pudding and Blicero, pp226-236.

2.5 Across the Western Front; at the White Visitation; at the Casino again - Slothrop with Feldspath and Bounce, including mostly Rocket material and the connection between IG Farben, Shell and ICI, pp236-244.

2.6 The party at Raoul's, Waxwing and the Sherman tank. Slothrop gets his zoot suit, pp244-249.

2.7.1 Story of Imipolex G, Tantivy's death, Slothrop goes to Nice, his ""freedom", first mention of 00000, pp249-257. 2.7.2 Zurich, on the track of Imipolex G, Slothrop meets Schweitar, does a deal with Squalidozzi, goes to Geneva and back; Jamf's grave, pp257-269.

2.8 Pointsman at the seaside, the end of the war, the (previously fictional) Schwarzkommando turn out to be "real"; Katje turns out to be the Mistress of the Night (see 2.4); Pointsman goes pathological (p274), pp269-278.


PART 3: IN THE ZONE, pp279-616

3.1 Slothrop in the Zone, by train to Nordhausen, meets the anonymous dancing child, Marvy, Enzian and Geli Tripping, gets a clue to the 00000, lots of Slothrop-Jamf plot connections; a little material on the Hereroes, major plot sequence (p285), first "address to the reader" (?) (p287), the story of Geli and Tchitcherine, pp281-295.

3.2 Slothrop's tour of the Rocket installation, the architecture of the place, Glimf and the chase by Marvy's Men. First talk here of space suits, etc. (p296); Slothrop's memory of Katje (p301); GR as a novel of "Post-A4 humanity"? (p304). Slothrop is called "TS" (p314) - another American in Europe, pp295-314.

3.3 Enzian and the Schwarzkommando at Nordhausen; history of the Hereroes and their big death theme. Poem/prose interface (p320); Godel. Discovery that Blicero equals Weissmann (p322). Connections between Tchitcherine, Enzian, Weissmann/Blicero and Pudding..., pp314-329.

3.4 Slothrop and Geli at the Brockengespenstphanomen; trip by balloon to Berlin, aerial fight with Marvy's Men and custard pies. mention of Slothrop's ancestor, Amy Sprue (p329), pp329- 336.

3.5.1 Rural life in the Zone; Tchitcherine's part in things (he is portrayed as "more metal than anything else" (p337)), pp336- 338.
3.5.2 Tchitcherine earlier at Seven Rivers with Dzaqyp Qulan, the language program there; material on the use of the alphabet, pp338-342.
3.5.3 Continuation of 3.5.1, Tchitcherine and the horse, Snake, pp342-343.
3.5.4 Tales of Tchitcherine that have got around, "the woman", Wimpe, Chu Piang, his father, the Committees on Language. Feud between Tchitcherine and Enzian, Tchitcherine's obsession with his half-brother. The tale of Rozhdestvenski and his fleet (p350). "How alphabetic is the nature of molecules" (p355), pp343-356.
3.5.5 Continuation of 3.5.1 and 3.5.3, Tchitcherine and Dzaqyp at the singing duel and the aqyn's song. Tchitcherine and the awakening at the Kirghiz Light, pp356-359.

3.6 Slothrop gets sick, the Schwarzkommando find an A4, Slothrop scores a joint and the Rocketman outfit; at the Chicago Bar with Bodine (cf. 4.12.1), the Dope Deal. Now the Schwarzkommando turn out to be "fiction" (p362), pp359-371.

3.7 Slothrop, morning Berlin, to Neubabelsberg/Potsdam to pick up the dope - cinematic themes. Slothrop's ID becomes Max Schlepzig (turns out to be Greta's boyfriend and maybe Bianca's father - an old time film star); the invisibility of fiction (p379), pp371-383.

3.8 The Argentinian U-boat, Squalidozzi in Bavaria - plans for his film of Martin Fierro by der Springer (= von Goll); torpedo scene between the U-boat and the John E. Badass. Tie-ups between IG, film, Springer and Jamf (p387), pp383-390.

3.9 Tchitcherine and Dzabjev reflect on the interrogation of Slothrop (second use of Sodium Amytal on TS - see 1.10); use of the "Black" theme by Slothrop in his ravings which, of course, has the desired effect on Tchitcherine, pp390-392.

3.10 Slothrop after the interrogation, meets Margherita (Greta) Erdmann in a movie studio; sado-masochism scene. Nb.: the hook-up over a long textual space (pp370-393 "This is how he comes to meet Margherita Erdmann" (p370)). Some material on Bianca and her origins which is important for the Pokler : Ilse :: Slothrop: Bianca connection, pp392-397.

3.11 Pokler alone now in Peenemunde (note the ellipsis connecting this with 3.10 above); his part in the A4, plenty of chemical and engineering material; Ilse and the Zwolfkinder; Pokler's struggle with Weissmann, Mondaugen, Kekule's dream of the serpent, Pokler goes to Nordhausen. Central section which establishes Pokler as important to Slothrop's uncertain quest. Pokler : Ilse :: Slothrop : Bianca connection is made via the theme of cinema and insemination. Frieda the pig is around here - she has her part later (3.28) in bringing Slothrop and Pokler together. Mondaugen's story (p403). Leni is interned by the SS, pp397-433.

3.12 Slothrop goes back to Berlin, finds the Imipolex G chess- knight, goes to Saure's with the dope; life with Erdmann on the Spree. Rocketman! Spaceman! (p438). Dream I and Dream II, pp433-447.

3.13 The Toiletship Rucksichtslos; inspection by General Electric and use by the Schwarzkommando to interrogate Achtfaden re. his work on the S-Gerat. Mention of Rozhdestvenski (p452), pp448-456.

3.14 Slothrop and Erdmann on the Spree-Oder canal; to Bad Karma and the woman in black; they join up with the Anubis; Thanatz, Bianca's parentage again, orgy scene. Bianca may be a product of the movie. Comparisons between the orgy and the party at Raoul Perlimpimpin's (cf. permanent party in V. attended by Weissmann and Mondaugen where "the world is all that is the case" arises), pp457-468.

3.15 Bianca and Slothrop, sex. mention of Slothrop's woman in America, pp468-472.

3.16.1 Slothrop meets Morituri, pp473-474.
3.16.2 "Ensign Morituri's Story": Erdmann as child-murderer, Morituri's only act of heroism, pp474-479.
3.16.3 Continuation of 3.16.1; Erdmann hides, Bianca and Thanatz disappear; Slothrop gets a partial change of costume
(p480), pp479-482.

3.17.1 Erdmann's past 1: identity, p482.
3.17.2 Erdmann's past 2: cowgirl, the horse Snake reappears from 3.5.3, pp482-483.
3.17.3 Erdmann's past 3: necrophiliac, p483.
3.17.4 Erdmann's past 4: movie scene with bathtub, pp483-484.
3.17.5 Erdmann's past 5: re. Bianca, p484.
3.17.6 Erdmann's past 6: sado-masochism with Thanatz, p484.
3.17.7 Erdmann's past 7: the sado-masochism vision, p484.
3.17.8 Erdmann's past 8: in the V-bombed town, p485.
3.17.9 Erdmann's past 9: the tale of 3.17.8 continues but is told in direct speech to Slothrop in the head of the Anubis; a direct narrative including details of Blicero and the Imipolex G orgy, pp485-488.

3.18 On board the Anubis, reflection time for Slothrop - he loses interest in his quest, pp488-491.

3.19 On Frau Gnahb's boat - Slothrop on his way to meet Springer and contract with him for the S-Gerat; Springer, Narrisch and Slothrop go to Peenemunde; Zhdaev raids Springer; a little slapstick. Springer's philosophy (p494). Otto (Gnahb's kid) on the topic of the Mother Conspiracy (see 4.6.l (p505)), pp492-505.

3.20.1 The rescue of Springer from the Russians. from about p509, Slothrop, having lost interest, begins to slowly fade out - if this can be said to have a beginning at all. Parallel to this: he works only as a sort of minor figure in Part 1 anyway. Mondaugen's Law (p509). Slothrop gets a Russian costume (p513). Theme of codes (inc. Morse), pp505-516.
3.20.2 Narrisch's reflection. Information on the S-Gerat, pp516- 518.

3.21 The Schwarzkommando check out Christian's sister, Maria, after her abortion; at the Jamf Olfabriken Werke; Enzian's vision; Pavel's search for the Key/Text. Useful stuff on "text" here and semiosis generally, lost messages and so on (p520). Pavel and the Moss Creature (p523), pp518-525.

3.22.1 Back to Swinemunde with Gnahb; deal with Springer (Slothrop helps out and Springer gets him a discharge); some intimation of Narrisch's fate; the raid on the Anubis to get Springer's parcel. Slothrop is beaten up by a person unknown, pp525-532.
3.22.2 Slothrop gets off at Straslund, p532.

3.23 back at the old White Vis., Pudding is now dead, Katje finds and watches films of herself taken back at 1.14 and film of Osbie Feel. She visits Osbie, pp532-536.

3.24 Pirate Prentice at the Old Firm Convention, Rapier's Sermon (Critical Mass), Pirate's interrogation (about what? for what?), with Katje: a final sunset and dancing. How I Came to Love the People (p547), pp537-548.

3.25 Slothrop in a small town on the way to Cuxhaven (where Springer is to deliver his discharge); debris of war; dream of Tantivy; Ludwig and his lemming; William Slothrop's story; comes face to face with Major Marvy. Stuff on Slothrop's family paper business, pp549-557.

3.26 Slothrop in Russian uniform meets Marvy (cont. of 3.25) and Bloody Chiclitz who put "him" (= the Russians) on to the Schwarzkommando. Slothrop and the Schwarzkommando swap Rocket information. Marvy's atomic chilli; Chiclitz's awful toys, the Juicy Jap and the Shufflin' Sam, pp557-563.

3.27 What Narrisch knew of the Rocket; Marvy and Tchitcherine out to raid the Schwarzkommando who have meanwhile been tipped off by Slothrop; Tchitcherine's vision of the Rocket cartel. The finger (p566), pp563-566.

3.28 En route to Cuxhaven, the pig festival and blackmarket raid in which Slothrop defends the people; meets the nameless girl who helps him out of town; Frieda the pig (from 3.11) leads Slothrop to Pokler. Change of costume for Slothrop. Zwolfkinder figures again - again in anticipation of the Pokler : Ilse :: Slothrop : Bianca connection (and Margherita : Leni (cf. 3.31)?), pp567-577.

3.29 Pokler reflects (to Slothrop): old German movie fetishes and Jamf's lectures, pp577-580.

3.30 Lyle Bland's story (connection via Pokler), business, the Masons, the pin-ball fiasco and, finally, astral travel, pp580- 591.

3.31 In Cuxhaven, Muffage and Spontoon are after Slothrop (spy medics?), Krypton's deals, Bodine's Runcible Spoon Fight; Bodine, Slothrop and Krypton hijack a Red Cross van to Puzzi's and another permanent party; Bodine and Marvy's deal; Marvy gets confused for Slothrop by virtue of donning the pig costume after the raid and gets his balls cut off my Muffage and Spontoon. Slothrop ends up with "Solange" - a prostitute who turns out to be Leni Pokler. The Red Cross Girl, Shirley, takes cocaine. Passage on p610 re. Ilse, pp591-610.

3.32 What happened to Tchitcherine, the Argentinians, the dogs, Pointsman; Mossmoon and Scammony (who is revealed to be pretty deeply behind all this) discuss Pointsman and Slothrop; comes down against Homosexuality in High Places - celebrates some of the relations-between-men in WWI, pp610-616.


PART 4: THE COUNTERFORCE, pp617-760.

4.1 Slothrop in the mountains, the harmonica; Prentice hijacks a plane; Saure argues with Gustav (still) about music; the signs of the Zone; the end of the rainbow, pp619-626.

4.2 Roger Mexico in the Zone looking for Slothrop; Jessica has left him; Mexico discovers more of the Rocket plot; he raids Pointsman's office; goes to visit Prentice; the idea of the Counterforce. Chance here that Pointsman may have known all about Slothrop from the beginning (p631). Use of quotation marks (p634), pp626-640.

4.3.1 Pensiero gives the (?) Colonel a haircut; the Colonel's dream, including Skippy and Mr Information; Happyville. Also uses the harmonica theme, pp640-647.
4.3.2 "The Story of Byron the Bulb", pp647-655.
4.3.3 Continuation of 4.3.1; Jamf and the Colonel; the Colonel is stabbed, p655.

4.4 Katje meets Enzian - they talk of Slothrop and Blicero, pp656-663.

4.5 Thanatz and the lightning-struck undertaker; the homosexual camp; Thanatz is sent as a DP back to Berlin; gives his knowledge of the S-Gerat to the Schwarzkommando, pp663- 673.

4.6.1 Slothrop and the four super-heroes go to rescue the Radiant Hour; the father-conspiracy (see 3.19), pp674-681.
4.6.2 "The Low-Frequency Listener": Slothrop tries to contact Squalidozzi, pp681-682.
4.6.3 "Mom Slothrop's Letter to Ambassador Kennedy" (= Jack's father), pp682-683.
4.6.4 "On the Phrase 'Ass Backwards'": Saure and Slothrop; Saure and Minne Khlaetsch. Includes the Doper's Cadenza, pp683-687.
4.6.5 "Shit 'n' Shinola": Saure, Bodine, Slothrop; Jack Kennedy and Malcolm X. Possibility of a Veronica Rat here, pp687-688.
4.6.6 "An Incident in the Transvestite's Toilet": Slothrop and the sodium bomb, pp688-690.
4.6.7 "A Moment of Fun with Takeshi and Ichizo, the Komical Kamikaze's", pp690-692.
4.6.8 "Streets", including news of Hiroshima (Morituri's home town (see 3.16.1)), pp692-694.
4.6.9 "Listening to the Toilet": the sun's sound-shadow; Kenosha Kid's return; You/They addressee problems, pp694-697.
4.6.10 "Witty Repartee": history of the Hotchkiss machine gun, pp697-698.
4.6.11 "Heart-to-Heart, Man-to-Man": Slothrop, his father, dope and electricity, pp698-699.
4.6.12 "Some Characteristics of Imipolex G": some material on "the Surface", pp699-700.

4.7.1 Tchitcherine, dope, religion, Marxism. Jamf and the Pokler singularity, pp700-703.
4.7.2 "Tchitcherine's Haunting": trip/the interrogation by Ripov; the dialectic, pp703-706.

4.8 The Gross Suckling Conference; the Roger-Beaver-Jessica triangle; Haydn's kazoo quartet; Slothrop as an albatross (PISCEAN); Roger's question; Mexico and Bodine get their revenge in the great alliterative shit-food competition. Sun- shadow theme again (p711); possible death of Slothrop (p712); Pappy Hod appears (p715), pp706-717.

4.9 Geli Tripping uses witchery to search for Tchitcherine; this fades, via discourse on the primeval, to Blicero talking to Gottfried of life, death, love and fathers & sons. Nb: Rilke's mountain gentian again. original and Subsequent sin. Fall- Gravity-Origin (p723), pp717-724.

4.10 The Schwarzkommando and the 00001 trek; Rocket theology; Ludwig and Katje, pp724-733.

4.11 Geli's spell is cast on Tchitcherine; Tchitcherine meets Enzian extremely briefly. "Certainly not the first time a man has passed his brother by, at the edge of the evening, often forever, without knowing it" (p735), pp733-735.

4.12.1 The elevators; Thanatz and Ludwig's sado-anarchism; Schwarzkommando; the future chroniclers of Slothrop; a repeat scene with Bodine at the Chicago bar (cf. 3.6); Dzabajev and Slothrop at the wine fix. Of Slothrop: "Some call him a 'pretext'"
(p738). Dillinger (p741). Slothrop breaks down/up; he fragments, pp735-743.
4.12.2 "The occupation of Mingeborough": a fantasy dealing with Slothrop's inability to get home, p744.
4.12.3 "Back in der Platz": including reprise of Byron the Bulb, pp745-746.
4.12.4 "Weissmann's Tarot", pp746-749.
4.12.5 "The Last Green and Magenta", p749.
4.12.6 "The Horse", p749.
4.12.7 "Isaac", pp749-750.
4.12.8 "Pre-Launch": key to Gottfried and the 00000 - pilot or passenger?, pp750-751.
4.12.9 "Hardware": the Imipolex G shroud, p751.
4.12.10 "Chase Music": the failure of the superheroes generally; some stuff on Pointsman. (Philip Marlow), pp751-753.
4.12.11 "Countdown": Edelman, mysticism of the countdown, pp753-754.
4.12.12 "Strung Into the Apollonian Dream...": Gottfried in the 00000, p754.
4.12.13 "Orpheus Puts Down His Harp": the harmonica prohibition and its defiance. (Richard M. Zhlubb), pp754-757.
4.12.14 "The Clearing", pp757-758.
4.12.15 "Ascent": Gottfried's last moments; re-mention of the Brocken-specter from 3.4 (p759), pp758-760.
4.12.16 "Descent". A cinematic episode in which this screen or page is obliterated by the Rocket falling, p760.

http://departments2.pomona.edu/pynchon/gr/grams.html
Copyright 1995 Brian Stonehill
http://russillosm/grsummary.html

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