Nostalgia and the crossroads of fiction and trauma in Delillo's ‘Falling Man’
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According to Cathy Caruth, trauma can only be accessed through latency. When an event causes such mental or physical anguish that trauma is induced, what occurs is that the victim loses all of the references that shape the event; though the memories of what happened remain, they cannot give access or value to what has happened. This makes trauma of great relevance to the study of narratives and histories because, in effect, it makes the creation of an accurate, truthful, narrative impossible. Using 9/11 as a case study, this thesis concerns itself with how trauma affects the interaction of the creation of narratives and a historical understanding of what has happened in hopes to answer the question of how fiction and fact are combined in this process. To that end, I focus my research on Don DeLillo's Falling Man . DeLillo is known to his critics and readers alike as persistently outlining the creation of meta-narratives and cultural understandings of history. In Falling Man , his novel about 9/11, he applies this concern to the creation of such narratives in the wake of a catastrophic event with an authorial intent that not only defines the relevancy of such narratives as a capable, or non-capable, method to work through the trauma, but which also asks what other roles art, and fiction, can play in issues concerning trauma. The thesis will analyze the crossroads of fiction and history in trauma in four chapters. The first will outline what is at stake and the general theories involved, the second will concern itself intimately with the creation of totalizing narratives as a work through of trauma, the third will provide counter narratives that develop alongside the totalizing narratives, and the fourth will tie these narratives together by showing how they interact and fuel each other while also providing some final thoughts that DeLillo offers for the role of fiction as a mechanism of healing trauma.