Reduce Text Size Increase Text Size Print Page

Literature Online

American PassagesVisit our companion site,
American Passages. Produced in conjunction with Oregon Public Broadcasting, this rich site includes an archive featuring over 3,000 images, audio clips, presentation software, and more.

Norton Gradebook

Instructors now have an easy way to collect students’ online quizzes with the Norton Gradebook without flooding their inboxes with e-mails.

Students can track their online quiz scores by setting up their own Student Gradebook.


Thomas Pynchon (b. 1937)

« back to list of Authors

Search the archive for images
Questions for Discussion and Writing

Entropy (1984) includes classic Pynchon themes and strategies: the high-intensity anxiety about human experience, from worldly human foibles to frightening laws of physics and uncrackable conundrums in epistemology. We also have fast-moving, sometimes eloquent characters orating and tearing about in the foreground. You may feel similarities between this narrative and The Simpsons, other darkly toned comic work by Matt Groening and Berke Breathed, or some of the recent Hollywood dystopic comedies.

1. Good stories are supposed to run on characterization: personages presented to us should be compelling somehow, or complex, and what they do and how they fare should matter to the reader. Is that true for Entropy? If the story does not play by conventional rules, then what does it do instead to hold the reader's attention?

2. It is often (and rather gloomily) observed that Henry Adams's law of acceleration has proved true for culture and that motion and quick changes have taken the place of substance -- in art, in letters, in the self. Does Entropy seem to you to be a symptom of such a problem, a commentary on that problem, or somehow both? What qualities of the story inform your answer?