The Falling Man: An approach to trauma in contemporary literature
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This dissertation explores the image of the 'Falling Man' (Drew, 2001) taken during the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and its function as an expression of trauma in the post-9/11 narrative. With trauma theory and the consideration of trauma fiction (Whitehead, 2004, p.3) crucial to this exploration, the dissertation focuses on Jonathan Safran-Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005) and Don DeLillo’s Falling Man (2007). The purpose of this is to identify the meanings connected to the image, its relationship to contemporary trauma fiction and theory and to analyse what is described as our "most intimate connection to the horror of that day" (Junod, 2009). Chapter one explores the impact of the 9/11 attacks and the 'Falling Man' image on fear, particularly fear of loss of identity. The focus will be on the relationship between identity and fear within the key texts, examining how the 'Falling Man' as motif enables writers to narrate the experience of trauma. The following chapter analyses trauma’s dislocating impact upon time and memory. Through close textual analysis, this explores how these texts represent the experience of trauma through using unconventional narrative techniques and the use of the 'Falling Man' image as a social referent. The final chapter incorporates a broader examination of representing trauma, identifying trends between the characteristics of the core texts and other key representations. This chapter focuses on image and mediation, exploring how the key texts reflect trauma theory through their attempts to 'translate' traumatic experience into coherent narrative. This dissertation examines an often obsessive relationship with the 'Falling Man' image that allows observers an intimate insight in to the demise of many victims of 9/11. Furthermore, it questions the extent to which society is able to 'work-through' the traumatised experience of time, memory and identity following the attacks of September 11.
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