Pizza and Chi Chi Rodriguez

“Well, they love him. What’s she supposed to do about that? She wants to lie down next to them, is what, and watch the rest of the movie, but they’ve taken up all available space. She goes in the living room and puts it on there, and falls asleep on the couch, though not before Chi Chi wins the 1964 Western Open by a stroke, over Gene Hackman in a cameo as Arnold Palmer.” (Pynchon 94)

The paragraph that I have chosen occurs after Horst shows up at Maxine’s house. He mentions that he intends on staying in New York for a while and as a family, they order pizza and spend time together. Preceding my paragraph, Maxine hears noise coming from the spare bedroom and walks by and notices Horst, Ziggy, and Otis all laid out snoozing on the bed with The Chi Chi Rodriguez Story playing in the background.

This moment highlights a family separated by divorce, the kids seeing their father after seemingly a decent amount of time and a mother putting her children first. To start, just the first two sentences, “Well, they love him. What’s she supposed to do about that?” show that any hard feelings or problems between her and Horst are to be put behind them for the kids. Maxine is presented with a situation where she sees highlights of her past where her, Horst, Ziggy, and Otis can enjoy a night in, order pizza and spend the rest of their night watching golf movies. The next sentence proves that point, the fact that what she’s supposed to do about it, is go into the room and lie down on the bed. She sees highlights of her past; their family’s past and perhaps wants some part of that back. This scene also relates back to the opening paragraph of the book; “… maybe Maxine doesn’t want to let go just yet, it’s only a couple of blocks, it’s on her way to work, she enjoys it, so?” (Pynchon 1)  The whole mentality of “so” or “is what”, shows that Maxine does not need an external opinion about her situation, she focuses on her and her boys and what she believes is best. Pynchon is framing Maxine as a headstrong woman, a mom who watches out for her children, someone who does not look too far into her relationships, and just does what she wants. She is having a fun night with her children and ex-husband, they enjoyed pizza and the boys are passed out on the bed with their dad, just because she wants to lay down with them, does not mean that she is already planning on getting back together with Horst. Maxine would just like to enjoy the moment.

Throughout the novel, Pynchon is able to paint an image for the reader; it is as if you are able to clearly see the scene as it unfolds. He uses references so that you can put a face on the situation, so you can visualize what is going on, as if you were there. In the paragraph that I have highlighted and even the one preceding it, Pynchon paints a scene that almost everyone has encountered, walking through your house and seeing other people laid out on the bed with the TV left on. He then adds specific dialogue from the movie playing and allows you to visualize it. He then references Gene Hackman, as a cameo, and Christopher Walken in the movie and these are two actors who many people recognize. It is as if the reader is watching the same movie. Pynchon is able to immerse the reader in the current situation, putting the reader in Maxine’s shoes, giving the reader a look into Maxine’s mind. Many people have been around a situation of a divorce, whether it be one of your friend’s parents or maybe even your own parents, Pynchon uses this common situation to connect and engage the reader, to further develop how Maxine functions. This situation highlights Pynchon’s form and how he wants to develop Maxine as a character. As a single mother in New York, working in a complex and dangerous business, Pynchon allows the reader to continue to develop as Maxine does and experience her life as it happens.

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2 Responses to Pizza and Chi Chi Rodriguez

  1. Dandy Mott says:

    I agree with you that Pynchon connects the reader with these instances of imagery and allusions. When I read the scene about family members passed out with the TV on, I could relate to that perfectly and could imagine it with my own family members. It is definitely easier to read and understand Pynchon when he provides these vivid and detailed scenes that are easy to relate to. I also think it is interesting how Maxine is being developed. Like you said, Maxine “just does what she wants.” Instead of getting a restraining order from Horst like Heidi suggests on the same page, she just wants to spend time with them and is fine with that.

    Like

  2. danwillisdan says:

    It’s true (and often understated) that amid all the global politics, apocalyptic vision and manic paranoia in Pynchon’s work, there’s a decency and a belief in the sanctity of human emotion that surfaces in moments like this. But still, the presence of the fabricated biopic seems to be functioning ironically. How is the tenderness of the moment marred by The Chi Chi Rodriguez Story, and why might Pynchon be doing that?

    Like

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