Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow is chock-full of dozens of references to history, pop culture, science, etc. So for our blog assignment it was difficult to choose just one reference to focus on. For my main post, I decided to go with a reference to something that I knew nothing about, thus opening my eyes to a better understanding of the novel. But one reference as I was reading about a week ago struck me, so I wanted to post something about it, because I knew it could be easily overlooked.
When I was a kid, my grandfather used to tell me that Fay Wray, the blonde actress in the original King Kong film from 1933, was my great-great-grandmother. It was an inside joke that he would play on all of the young children in our family, as my grandmother’s maiden name was Ray (different spelling, I know, but as a six year old, it was believable).
So on page 58 when Jessica gives Roger “her Fay Wray look, eyes round as can be, red mouth about to open in a scream,” Pynchon is referring to Fay Wray’s famous performance in King Kong (Pynchon 58).
It may seem like an insignificant detail that could be easily overlooked in the text, but all of the seemingly insignificant references in this book are what make it truly interesting and unlike any other.
Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow. New York: Penguin, 1973. Print.