2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

JFK and Slothrop: Pynchon's References to the Kennedys in Gravity's Rainbow
Molly M. McCleery
Dr. Bob Mielke, Faculty Mentor

Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel, is a work replete with pop culture and historical references, including several related to John F. Kennedy and his father, Joe Kennedy. While, in the context of the novel’s plot, Pynchon’s allusions to the Kennedys may appear random or come as unexpected to the reader, they are far from uncalculated. Rather, as this paper demonstrates, the references to the Kennedys in Gravity’s Rainbow exemplify Pynchon’s expert use of parahistory and, through the creation of parallels between John F. Kennedy and Tyrone Slothrop and their respective relationships with their fathers, contribute to the subtle development of Slothrop’s character.

Keywords: Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, John F. Kennedy, parahistory, literary analysis, contemporary American literature

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 34-2
Location: OP 2113
Time: 1:30

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