Mason & Dixon Summary
The theme of isolation and alienation is a thread running throughout the book.
Isolation in Capetown drives the Vroom family to religious hypocrisy and sexual immorality. Isolation on St. Helena drives Nevil Maskelyne to eccentricity and paranoia. Isolation on the frontier drives settlers like the Paxton brothers to violence and depravity.
Journeys are also a major theme. During the course of their journeys to three continents, Mason and Dixon encounter different cultures, new foods, poems, and music sung by sailors, workers, and famous people. It is "like a stew being stirred around," says Dixon. They encounter many political, scientific, and religious arguments. However, none of these journeys resolve personal conflicts that confound Mason or Dixon.
Another theme is that of boundaries.
The Visto, or Mason Dixon line, between Pennsylvania and Maryland creates an unnatural boundary, as opposed to the natural boundaries of mountains and rivers. Even as the loggers...
(read more from the Short Guide)
The Mason & Dixon Study Pack contains:
Mason & Dixon Short Guide
Thomas Pynchon Biographies (3)
1,365 words, approx. 5 pages
The American novelist Thomas Pynchon (born 1937) is best known for V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity's Rainbow, Vineland, and Mason & Dixon, complex fictions noted for their encyclopedic erudi...
4,071 words, approx. 14 pages
Thomas Pynchon 's willingness to address the most important cultural and social issues makes him an important writer. He depicts the plight of contemporary humanity caught in, rather than sustained by...
15,946 words, approx. 54 pages
Thomas Pynchon 's ancestral roots go deep into the soil of America--an appropriate genealogy for a writer whose overriding concern in his fictional project is the construction of "America" and the nec...
Essays & Analysis (3)
1,184 words, approx. 4 pages
1,069 words, approx. 4 pages
4,860 words, approx. 17 pages