Monday, January 08, 2007

Chapter 27: Dallying in New York City

Chapter 27 is Dally’s New York adventure and her eventual reunion with Erlys. Between her arrival on the train, and her meeting with her mother (another of Pynchon’s “cute meets”), th reader encounters an array of characters:
Katie, a waitress at Schultz’s Vegetarian Brauhaus, and an aspiring actress
Mrs. Dragsaw, manager at the Brauhaus
Chinchito, a circus midget with a voracious sexual appetite, and an organ rather
out of proportion to the rest of his body
Mock Duck, Chinese gangster
Hop Fung, director/producer of New York street theatre
Tom Lee, a Chinese gangster
R. Wilshire Vibe, Broadway producer
Con McVeety, assistant to the young Vibe
Various Vaudeville Acts

Katie and Dally end up at a party given by RW Vibe, where she is mysteriously rescued from a probable date rape artist by the party’s act, which coincidentally is The Great Zombini. The magician’s assistant is her mother, Erlys.

After meeting her siblings, and confronting her mother (briefly) over her abandonement, Dally learns Merle is not her real father. She is the daughter of Bert Snidell, who died in an accident in Cleveland before she was born.

Luca Zombini is using Iceland Spar in his act, to cut his subjects in half, creating, not body parts, but two identical subjects. Unfortunately, he discovers it is nore than an optical illusion—in some sense, twins are created. The family, including Dally, is off to perform in Venice where Luca wishes to consult with the makers of his double-refracting calcite device, “The Isle of Mirrors in Venice” which makes “the finest conjurors mirrors in the world” (355)/. Just as Dally is mysteriously transported from Vibe’s party, it seems that Iceland Spar has some sort of ability to transcend time and space.

An aside: Before going to the party, the girls enter a giant department store—a kind of Macy’s with the name I.J.&K. Smokefoot’s. Guarding the entrance are two bouncers, who Katie refers to as “Jachin and Boaz…Guardians of the Temple” (346). The reference is to Solomon’s temple, and these are the names of the two pillars. Look closely at the high priestess card of the tarot deck, above.


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