Frenesi Gates is among the most fully developed and interesting characters in all of Pynchon’s work. She is seen from the point of view of the third-person narrator and also from the perspectives of her mother, Zoyd, Prairie, and DL as well as the Senior Attentive of the Sisterhood. Totally committed to the feminist film collective with which she is associated, daughter of her radical parents in her devotion to social causes, Frenesi is nevertheless fascinated, attracted, and repelled by Brock Vond and by the kind of authoritarian power he represents. At first, she tries to play games with Vond, then she falls in love with him; finally, she is made to face the extent of her own degradation. Over her protests, Vond gets her to transport the gun that will kill Weed, the professor who is at the heart of the student uprising. Once she has done this, she can place no limit on what she will do, and her life working as an agent for Vond is an inevitable next step. Still, as she is seen with Flash and Justin, she has not become a woman without conscience. She misses Prairie and regrets having left her, although she could see no alternative at the time. When the funds dry up and she is cast out of her work by a change in government policy, she instinctively returns to the reunion of her mother’s clan. There, she discovers something like mercy and some sort of peace.
The other characters are less original and less developed. Prairie is presented as a typical...
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