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The Passing of Time

“These are the days after. Everything now is measured by after.”

Falling Man, page 138

This short passage comes about halfway through the book and briefly states one of the novel’s main themes, the passage of time. Throughout the entire novel, everything is compared to how it was before. 9/11 changes some aspects of the characters’ lives, but other aspects stay completely the same. Lianne and Keith get back together again. However, Keith stays true to his womanizing ways by having a short affair with Florence. Lianne’s writing group stays the same. They don’t want to talk about the towers, and stick to the same subject material as before. Keith’s poker games cease because of the death of two of the members of the group. Besides the fact of Keith returning to Lianne, not much in their day to day life has changed. Keith and Lianne go to work. Justin goes to school. This traumatic event which happened so close to them, really hasn’t changed their lives at all.

In Part III, time has shifted again, to three years after September 11. Things have changed more drastically this time. Lianne’s mother, Nina, has passed away and Lianne has severed ties to Nina’s lover, Martin. Keith tours the world on the professional poker circuit and occasionally comes home. The only character who we see unchanged by time is Hammad, whose life is never shown after 9/11, like the other characters. This may be done to dehumanize him, by showing he doesn’t have a life after it. DeLillo could have chosen a terrorist who is just involved in the planning of 9/11, and continues his life after, and the events are shown, but DeLillo doesn’t. DeLillo may be showing that the passage of time makes us human.

One Response to “The Passing of Time”

  1. kappel15 says:

    I think you are right about the passage of time making us human. We “follow the arc of sun and moon”, and time passes. Life, and people, change.
    I feel as if the quote you chose, which I also had noted while reading, says a lot about how we view time. Instead viewing time as ‘right now’, we often view it in comparison to the past.