By S. Halldorson
Through an in-depth research of the works of Saul Bellow and Don DeLillo, this publication deals up a brand new thought of the heroic for the days we are living in.
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Additional resources for The Hero in Contemporary American Fiction: The Works of Saul Bellow and Don DeLillo
What are they to do? All the while they carry the dirty little secret of wishing to do nothing more than drift and forget. They are truly heroes who want to stop wanting. They are desperate to write the heroic narrative; yet, they cannot. To write the heroic narrative is no less a task than to redefine the need for community and community identity in America. One must differentiate first between community identity and what some conflate into ideas of “mass man” or phonies or even communism. Conformity in any form becomes the bogeyman of the American imagination; it is submission and weakness.
The impulse that unites is the heroic impulse to create narrative boundaries around death and around imagination. Unfortunately, there is no longer belief in these boundaries. In DeLillo’s world there is no longer belief in end-time, endpoints, or Truth. There is destruction, and there is creation. However, there is no community identity because there is no community belief and no community. At the very end of White Noise when Gladney has failed even to reidentify himself with a benevolent image of himself as Mink’s savior, the German nun attending to his wound tells him: “As belief shrinks from the world, people find it more necessary than ever that someone believe” (DeLillo’s emphasis, 304).
As Sarah Cohen writes, the tragic mode “assumes that man has an exalted nature which, though sorely tested, will ultimately reassert itself” (6), and this assumption was no longer valid in the eyes of the intelligentsia. S. Halldorson, The Hero in Contemporary American Fiction © Stephanie S. Halldorson 2007 32 THE HERO IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN FICTION pervading sense of self in the popular imagination where America was an icon of prosperity, and practical heroism was rewarded with political and economic power, and moral superiority.
The Hero in Contemporary American Fiction: The Works of Saul Bellow and Don DeLillo by S. Halldorson