Falling Man by Don DeLillo: Terrorism Essay Example

  • Category: Literature, Novels,
  • Words: 796 Pages: 3
  • Published: 07 June 2021
  • Copied: 160

In the novel Falling Man written by Don DeLillo, the ideas of how terrorism affects people in not only their daily lives but as well as psychologically are emphasized.  The novel starts off with the main character, Keith Neudecker standing in the street in the middle of New York City, right after he had survived the attack of a fallen tower. He then stumbles to his ex-wife's home and sits in shock. When he arrived he did not speak, he simply sat. This encounter embodies when something drastic occurs there is no way to cope rather than to sit and try to comprehend what happened. For Keith, he had to wrap his mind around the fact that his work building had been hit by a plane and that he survived, however many of his colleagues and close friends did not. It was like he was hypnotized, unaware of what was happening but knew he had to escape to a safe place.

In an article written by Malcolm Jones, a highly experienced reporter and writer who has worked at many newspaper companies such as New York Times, analyzed Falling Man and felt it was one of the most qualified pieces on 9/11 by showing the harsh realities that occured. In his article he emphasizes how Keith worked hard at physical therapy for his injured wrist, which was wrecked when he came out of the tower. Jones believed that the torn cartilage was not the subject of this effort, but the chaos was. The levitation of ceilings and floors along with the voices choking in smoke within the building were what had affected Keith so much,m after the fact he continued to commit himself to therapy as a way to cope with the trauma. 

Jones was very impressed with the way DeLillo had described the attacks and felt that it was a way for the readers to understand the unspeakable facts about that horrendous Tuesday morning and gain knowledge about how survivors felt and how they coped. Keith Neudecker is one of the characters that coincides with the reader by showing how much the terrorist attack had affected him. In the event something so scarring occurs people would not be able to function normally until they can process what they experienced, which could take any amount of time. 

DeLillo then switches viewpoints and focuses on the perception from the ex-wife Lianne, never diverting from the idea that their lives were forever changed. Lianne always talked about the way things used to be and how Keith had drastically changed since September 11th. She emphasized how he did not care about anything and how he acted impulsively. He had an affair with another survivor as a way to cope and would aimlessly wander around the city, walking into buildings and around parks analyzing all of the structures that towered over him. Lianne spoke on the fact that Keith from that day on had been detached from everyone and everything. This document was written by Bob Hoover who has been a book critic and editor since 1987, after getting an English degree from Ohio University. After he read the novel, he noticed DeLillo had focused on the small and mundane details of daily living in the changed world, and Lianne's perception of Keith is an accurate example of that. 

Isolation and loss of identity

Isolation and loss of identity are common things that could happen to someone who experiences such a shocking incident. DeLillo continuously shows ways that Keith struggles, he becomes extremely depressed, fails to show any form of acceptance and loses his sense of self.  In an article about the novel, written by Alan Marshall a university teacher who focuses his work primarily on American Literature as well as literary philosophical relations, wrote about how DeLillo’s book focused on letting go and the loss of loss rather than the coping and grieving that occurs after a terrible occurrence.  Marshall felt Falling Man explored not only the nature of grief, but also the need or temptation the people in mourning feel to see their loss as exceptional, and Keith's loss of personality and identity coincide with this claim. Finding a successful way to cope resulted in Keith losing his identity and isolating himself, he became a completely new person and had a new mindset.

The novel explores, as part of its reflection on grief, what makes people identify with post-9/11 conditions. Keith identifies with the experience by having an affair with another survivor, whom he helped out of the towers. Although he did not want to live through it again, he felt comfort in being with someone who had gone through the same exact thing as him. Another way Keith identified with the post-9/11 conditions was how he carried around a briefcase. He found the briefcase in the staircase on his way out of the building, picked it up and continued to carry it with him everywhere he went months after the attacks. The briefcase reminded him what had happened but comforted him because he knew holding the briefcase was a way for him to cope with the upheaval of the attacks on September 11th.

 

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