Chapter 5

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Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
492-page edition / 547-page edition

112/117 -- Walter Reuther
Walter Philip Reuther (September 1, 1907 – May 9, 1970) was a labor leader with the UAW & CIO.

113/118 -- Mikolaj Rej
Renaisance era Polish poet, commonly held as one of the founders of Polish literature. An article by the Finish Maritime Index (Brzoza, K. "Finish Maritime Sisters" 04-05) lists a cargo ship of the sizable Wihuri class under just such a name, operated by Polish Ocean Lines of Gdynia.

123/128 -- killed and boiled a catechumen
A catechumen is a "learner," one who is being instructed in the Christian faith. In the early church, a catechumen was one who underwent rigorous instruction in preparation for Holy Baptism. The word comes from the Greek and means "to echo" or "sound in the ear." Catechumens were traditionally taught through question and answer, with the answer echoing back what was first taught. A catechism is a book of instruction, often in the form of questions and answers. [1]

123/129 -- Mafia

According to Molly Hite in Ideas of Order in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon, "Mafia is a parody of Ayn Rand, whose influence was at its peak in the early sixties when V. first appeared." [2]

127/133 "All quite mysterious and Dashiell Hammettlike"
Referring, of course, to the author of detective novels such as The Maltese Falcon.

128/134 Taken a Brody This colorful term refers to Steve Brody, 1st man to survive a jump off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1885.


  1. Lutheran Church Liturgical Glossary
  2. Hite, Molly, Ideas of Order in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon, Ohio State University Press, 1983p.162, fn.13

Chapter 1
In which Benny Profane, a schlemihl and human yo-yo, gets to an apocheir
Chapter 2
The Whole Sick Crew
Chapter 3
In which Stencil, a quick-change artist, does eight impersonations
Chapter 4
In which Esther gets a nose job
Chapter 5
In which Stencil nearly goes West with an alligator
Chapter 6
In which Profane returns to street level
Chapter 7
She hangs on the western wall
Chapter 8
In which Rachel gets her yo-yo back, Roony sings a song, and Stencil calls on Bloody Chiclitz
Chapter 9
Mondaugen's story
Chapter 10
In which various sets of young people get together
Chapter 11
Confessions of Fausto Maijstral
Chapter 12
In which things are not so amusing
Chapter 13
In which the yo-yo string is revealed as a state of mind
Chapter 14
V. in love
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Epilogue, 1919
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