Rooney and the Rocketman

Author: Donald F. Larsson (Mankato State University)

  • Rooney and the Rocketman


    Rooney and the Rocketman



One of the many memorable though puzzling moments in Gravity's Rainbow occurs while Slothrop, in the guise of "Rocketman," is retrieving a package of hashish from the site of the 1945 Potsdam summit conference. Looking up, Slothrop/Rocketman freezes as he recognizes, the narrator comments, "well, this may sound odd, but it's Mickey Rooney." As Siothrop recovers his prize and takes off, Rooney--who "will repress the fact that he ever saw Slothrop"--is left behind, "with his elbows on that railing, still watching" (382). This fictional encounter raises two questions: what significance, if any, are we to attach to it, and what inspired Pynchon to use Mickey Rooney, of all people? The answers to these questions turn out to be interrelated, and so they provide yet another example of how Pynchon manipulates historical "reality" and American mythologies within the fictional worlds he creates.

How to Cite:

Larsson, D. F., (1989) “Rooney and the Rocketman”, Pynchon Notes , 113-115. doi:

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Published on
21 Sep 1989