Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow possesses an image which has intrigued readers of the novel since its introduction. Many readers come away from the novel failing to find the answer to one question: What is the Kenosha Kid?
Critics have argued about the identity of the Kenosha Kid. Some have argued that it does not really exist. Instead, it is only the result of Tyrone Slothrop's hallucinations brought on by sodium amytal (or "truth serum"). Ironically, the idea that the Kenosha Kid comes out during a dose of "truth serum" proves to be even more confusing for readers (given it may or may not really exist).
Other critics have denoted the Kenosha Kid as a dance (likening it to the "Charleston" or the "Big Apple" dances).
Unfortunately, Tyrone's offering of different variations of the phrase tend to confuse readers more. The changing of punctuation, pausing, voice, and context all change the meaning, and identity, of the Kenosha Kid. In the end, readers not never given a solid definition of what the Kenosha Kid is. Instead, the fact that Tyrone is heavily medicated and beings to think about the idea tends to overshadow the Kenosha Kid and its identity.