Jokes and Puns in Gravity's Rainbow

Author: Charles Hollander (Baltimore, MD)

  • Jokes and Puns in Gravity's Rainbow


    Jokes and Puns in Gravity's Rainbow



Gravity's Rainbow contains so many jokes and puns that a typology might make a helpful doctoral dissertation. Here, only two of the best-known examples will serve as models: "The Disgusting English Candy Drill" (114–20) and "For De Mille, young fur-henchmen can't be rowing" (557–63). Each is lovingly set up. Steven Weisenburger calls "De Mille" the "most elaborately staged pun in all of GR…. Note that Pynchon has fashioned an entire narrative digression about illicit trading in furs, oarsmen in boats, fur-henchmen, and De Mille-all of it in order to launch this pun" (240). The Candy Drill similarly takes considerable narrative digression to get Slothrop with an English Nurse (Darlene), her landlady (Mrs. Quoad)–a self-described witch–and a jar of candies reflecting a fiendish sensibility. Neither De Mille nor Darlene ever reappears: indeed, it is questionable whether Darlene ever existed; and a Mrs. Quoad is mentioned again only to cast doubt on Darlene's existence. So we might assume these sections have no other purpose than amusement.

How to Cite:

Hollander, C., (2001) “Jokes and Puns in Gravity's Rainbow”, Pynchon Notes , 204-207. doi:

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Published on
21 Sep 2001