Gravity's Rainbow | Study Guide

Thomas Pynchon

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Gravity's Rainbow | Character Analysis


Tyrone Slothrop

Slothrop is offended by injustice and smug characters. He has an anti-authoritarian streak and a liking for vulgar, flashy clothes, especially zoot suits and Hawaiian shirts. He romances numerous women, and he seems to fall in love with several of them. Slothrop has a peculiar sensitivity to the V-2 rockets falling on London. He appears to get erections related to the V-2 rockets. However, this happens days before the rocket falls on a particular site. This response is somehow related to experiments Laszlo Jamf conducted on him as an infant. Slothrop wants to find the truth about himself, the 00000 rocket, and Their machinations.

Captain Blicero

As Lieutenant Weissmann, Blicero served in the German Army in South West Africa during the brutal suppression of the Herero uprising. Later he took a Herero lover, young Enzian. Back in Germany, Blicero leads a rocket battery at Peenemünde. In classic Nazi villain style, he likes poetry, music, and sadistic games.

Katje Borgesius

Katje lived in captivity with Gottfried, in thrall to the sadistic Blicero. When she freed herself from Blicero's hold, she sent a message to Pirate Prentice and was exfiltrated to London. Katje works with Pointsman and PISCES; she seduces Slothrop in a staged crisis, in which an octopus attacks her. Although she is outwardly cool, at unguarded times a look of grief and desolation comes over her. She is pained by the deaths she caused in her work with the Nazis, and she tries to compensate by joining the counterforce.


Enzian is the son of a Herero woman and a Russian sailor. He is also the half-brother of the Soviet intelligence officer Tchitcherine. Enzian leads the Schwarzkommando, a German rocket battery consisting solely of Hereros. Enzian's mother took part in the Herero uprising of 1904 against German colonial rule. After a disastrous desert trek, Enzian's mother and all her kin perished. Enzian woke up alone, surrounded by dead people. This marked his fate as a survivor in an occupied land. He is determined to save his people.


Pointsman makes himself out to be a man of science, but his devotion to Pavlovian behaviorism is almost mystical or religious. Pavlov's ideas came to him like a revelation, which he compares to a seduction by a Venus. Pointsman has a fashionable Harley Street address and his lab coats are tailored on Saville Row. Visions of winning a Nobel Prize beguile him. He is aware women find him "creepy," but he can't change that. He experiments on dogs but longs to experiment on a human.


Tchitcherine spent a large portion of the 1930s in Central Asia as part of the alphabetization campaign, in which many of the far-flung tribal peoples of the Soviet Union were encouraged to adopt writing systems. Thus, he was part of Soviet modernization efforts, even though he was not an especially ardent communist. In Central Asia, Tchitcherine had a mystical experience with the Kirghiz Lights. He likes Slothrop, but he sides with Slothrop's enemy, Major Marvy.

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