The section I would like to explore is not really a section at all it is a phrase. When reading the Whalestoe Letters Johnny’s mother instructs Johnny to read the next letter by taking the first letter of each word and constructing sentences out of them. If this process is applied to one of the later letter, unfortunately I did not mark which one, we receive a simple phrase “Zampano, who did you lose?” This phrase, by itself, managed to change my whole view of all the characters in the book. This phrase, if taken as actually meaningful, means that Pelafina knew Zampano very well. If Zampano knew Pelafina he may have known Johnny without Johnny knowing him, possibly meeting him at a young age. But that is just scratching the surface of what the phrase does.
Consider this: the check mark on page 97. I had originally believed the check mark was Johnny’s means of answering his mother who, being suspicious, had requested he put a check mark in the bottom corner if he received the letter she had sent. Then another idea came to mind Pelafina is trying to secretly retain contact with Johnny through letters and wants to ensure he receives it through the check mark, is it possible that Pelafina has employed this technique before to conceal other activities? This may be a stretch but here it goes: Johnny’s father may have known Zampano previously through the air force since they both served or through a job that he held after the war. Pelafina got to know Zampano very well and eventually developed a relationship with him. They have a one night fling and from it comes Johnny to be. Pelafina sends Zampano multiple letters but does not receive any in return, in one of the letters she tells Zampano to leave a check mark in the bottom corner to let her know he is receiving them. Zampano, unable to get his letters through, presumably because of Johnny’s father, places the check mark in the manuscript in hopes that she, one day, discovers it.
I know this idea is riddled with what ifs but I think it is an interesting way to look at the book. In this scenario Johnny unknowingly stumbles upon his biological father’s resting place, takes up a jumbled mess amounting to his life’s work, and creates a masterpiece in the form of House of Leaves. I think the scenario with Karen and Wax and the consistent references to infidelity, on Karen’s part, could be a sort of hidden clue to this. Most of all if this actually did happen it links all the characters together in a bizarre way that makes the story all the more creepy.