Marx's critique of the social and economic conditions of the British industrial revolution held that there was a profound and consequential power imbalance between the majority of people and the public and private authorities that dictated the conditions of their lives.
In this early Pynchon novel, the author's signature preference for shadowy, nefarious, hydra-headed conspiracy plots serves a similar critical function, extending Marx's condemnation of state and corporate overreach in the lives of average people.
As her name might suggest, Oedipa's quest for truth and resolution provides the novel's main dramatic thrust, while her experiences along the way construe an existential labyrinth for her character to be foiled, confounded, and enlightened at the unseen hands of unaccountable consolidated power. Sophocles's tragic King Oedipus blinded himself on realizing the truth of his sins, but Pynchon's Oedipa has been slowly rendered blind and complacent before cynical interests of the new, multinational advertising, technology, and consumer-goods industries.
These are the cultural forces that defined the era's mythic narrative of prosperity, freedom, and peace, and Pynchon employs an absurdist brush to expose the reality of a true menace below the surface of American abundance and opportunity. In Oedipa's mysterious journey, unraveling the strands of truth toward reaching the limits of what can be known allow her an authentic experience of self-discovery and awareness. Whereas Marx advocated revolution to throw off the chains off capitalist oppression, Pynchon sees that the forces are much more insuperable than Marx considered, because of their invisible extended networks of interests.