56 pages 1 hour read

Thomas Pynchon

The Crying of Lot 49

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1966

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Chapter 5

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary

After noticing that her script for The Courier's Tragedy differs from the version she saw performed, Oedipa returns to Berkeley. The written copy contains no reference to Tristero, though this may be due to errors in the printing process. Nevertheless, Oedipa wants to talk to a literature professor. Emory Bortz lectures at Berkeley and authored the foreword to the anthology of plays in which Oedipa noticed the "corrupt and probably spurious lines" (77). She hopes Bortz can explain why there are seemingly four versions of the play. However, Bortz is not in Berkeley, as he recently moved to a college in San Narciso. Before following Bortz to San Narciso, Oedipa visits John Nefastis. She talks to him about Stanley Koteks and is asked to be tested to determine whether she is a sensitive and therefore able to operate the Nefastis Machine.

Nefastis talks about entropy, which is essential to the way his machine works. Entropy is the connection between the flow of information and thermodynamics, both of which were used by Maxwell's Demon. Nefastis leaves Oedipa in a room with a version of Maxwell's Demon. He wants to see whether she can use it.