Implicit Rape and Female Consent in Thomas Pynchon’s V.

Thomas Pynchon is no stranger to using shocking imagery to get his point across. V. (1963), his first full-length novel, is no exception, containing many instances of rape or attempted rape. The book’s third chapter, however, features a scene that is not explicitly an instance of sexual violence, yet arguably invokes in the reader the same highly invasive, uncomfortable feeling it would if it were an explicit description of rape. In this paper, I will pinpoint the reasons why this might be the case by comparing the second part of the chapter, a seemingly innocent rhinoplasty scene, to the more apparent mentions of rape throughout the book. Particular attention will be paid to similarities in imagery, the agency of the respective victims, and the reactions of male and female witnesses. Additionally, because there seems to be an aspect to the scene that implies it was intended as a metaphor for consensual sex, I will determine what the success or failure of this intended metaphor means for Pynchon’s philosophy on female consent.

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