Foreshadowing and Misunderstandings: An Airport

“A voice comes on the PA, making an announcement in English, though Maxine is suddenly unable to understand a word. The sort of resonant voice in which events are solemnly foretold, not at all a voice she would ever want to be summoned by.”

(Bleeding Edge, 135)

This moment can be found a little bit into the novel, where Maxine has just dropped off her boys with their father at the airport as they are headed towards Chicago and then further into the Midwest. Maxine waited with the boys and Horst until their flight was called, but on her way out of the airport, she ran into Vyrva and Justin, who are on their way to California to spend some time with Vyrva’s parents and then to Vegas before they return to New York. It is at this point when Maxine asks Justin about DeepArcher, both to be friendly and to get some information about it because of her clear interest in DeepArcher as a whole. It is after this interaction that this specific passage I chose occurs, because Maxine is referencing the PA system saying that a flight is boarding. As it turns out the flight is Justin and Vyrva’s, so they leave.

I found this passage to be particularly interesting for a few reasons. The first reason is on a surface level; Maxine is saying goodbye to her family at the gate, which in terms of the looming 9/11 attacks, we know is going to change dramatically, surrounds this particular quote/passage. While it is not the core of my analysis, I think it is important to draw attention to this airport detail, because in a way we know that it points towards the future of this novel. There is also this possibility that this could mirror a later moment in the novel where Maxine could perhaps return to an airport where the security is much different—however this is just possible foreshadowing.

What I am most interested about in this passage is that although this announcement is in English, Maxine is unable to understand it, however Justin is, because he knows that it’s his flight being called. I feel that this is a key moment in the novel, because it speaks to this deeper idea that although things are happening, they are difficult to understand. I see it as this idea that although Maxine is being told different things and is looking into hashslingrz and hawala, she isn’t able to understand the ramifications and potential outcomes of what she is investigating.

This passage also notes that the PA is speaking through a voice that speaks of “events solemnly foretold.” In this instance I see Pynchon adding to this ominous overtone of the situation and novel. It is also interesting that this ominous voice is being spoken in an airport, surrounded by the fact that Maxine isn’t entirely sure of what is going on.

This passage is structured in this foreshadowing of undesired events to come. This notion is especially played out through the potential crossing of hashslingrz and hawala—as suggested through Maxine’s misunderstanding—along with it all occurring at the airport and the run in with Justin. Although it is not a point played out at length, this moment tends to suggest a crossing over of these different situations leading to something that will have grave impacts.

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5 Responses to Foreshadowing and Misunderstandings: An Airport

  1. Mingyue Yan says:

    I can tell that you read very carefully and noticed every detail because I did not find this sentence special, which you found so much information from. And I think it interesting to give a word two different meanings. As you said that Maxine said goodbye to her family, which has two meanings. The first on the surface level is just saying “see you” as usual, means they will meet again. On the contrary, saying goodbye can also means the bid farewell “looming the 9/11”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. newtonscradle7 says:

    When I first read that passage, the first thing I thought of was the act of 9/11. When I read “resonant voice in which events are solemnly foretold, not at all a voice she would ever want to be summoned by.” I linked it to the people of those flights, being summoned to those flights and not knowing their fate. I definitely agree with you that Pynchon is adding an ominous overtone to this scene and that it is not simply Justin and Vyrva going to visit family. I enjoy Pynchon’s style of letting the reader allude to certain events and also him outlining where he wants to go in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • shhairah says:

      I really liked your comment on the people of the flights being summoned by that voice not knowing their fate. That hadn’t crossed my mind and it definitely adds in a whole new layer I hadn’t thought of before.


  3. I think that your analysis of this section is very detailed and I enjoyed it. When I read this line, I did not read nearly as far into it as you did. My initial thoughts on this line was just that Pynchon decided to add some dark humor to his book, I did not read it as foreshadowing. Now that I have read your post though, I think I need to reanalyze my thoughts on the passage. It will be interesting to see if this was in fact foreshadowing as the book continues.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. danwillisdan says:

    This idea, that while the content of someone’s speech can be irrelevant, its tone can be of great importance, speaks to a major shift that occurred with reproducible media. To use a tangentially related example, Americans were inundated with allegedly objective 9/11 coverage throughout the 2000s. But while most of it seemed to say the same things, mention the same suspects and claim the same significance, the most telling details were diction, tone and subtext. I think you’ll really enjoy it when we turn to Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is the Message” later in the semester (if you haven’t already read it).


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