Critics of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 have suggested dozens of meanings for the name of the novel’s central character, Oedipa Maas. The first name certainly invites interpretations, but her last name also invites interpretations and seems to hint at many of the novel’s themes.
Readers often derive the meanings from the sound of the name and how it is similar to other English and foreign words.
Many interpretations can lead to some insightful findings about the novel. Here are eleven interpretations and the critics that have proposed them:
- Ma-a-s (The Noise Sheep Make) – Colvile
- Maas (Afrikaner for “Net” or “Web”) – Davidson, Fletcher
- Maas (Dutch for “Mesh,” “Stitch,” or “Loophole”) – Chambers, Fletcher
- Maas (Plausible Dutch-American Surname) – Seed
- Maaswerk (Background Threads in a Tapestry) – Colvile
- Mas (Spanish for “More”) – Colvile, Fletcher, Seed
- Mass (Communication) – Colvile, Duyfhuizen
- Mass (Newton’s Second Law of Motion) – Plater
- Mass (Religious) – Colvile
- Muse (from French River Meuse, Pronounced “My Ooze”) – Chambers
- My Ass (Defiance, Not Oedipus) – Colvile
Did I miss any?