Accounting for the Unaccountable: The Problem of Evil in the Post 9/11 Fiction with Special Reference to Don DeLillo’s Falling Man


  • Umar Shehzad



An account of evil is an oxymoronic construction because, as Terry Eagleton puts it, evil is like “boarding a crowded commuter train wearing only a giant boa constrictor” i.e. incomprehensible by its very nature. However, evil has variously been described as the underbelly of religion, the backyard of morality, and inassimilable waste and byproduct of existence. In the post 9/11 fiction, problematics of evil have been dealt in three distinct and mutually contradictory ways: as a fissure in the cosmic order, as an inevitable fallout of power politics on the international stage, and finally as part of the normal human condition and thus a continuation of average everydayness. Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, an important post 9/11 work of fiction, stages all three strategies. Therefore, when the novel starts with taking up the big questions – Man vs God, good vs evil, determinism vs free will, east vs west, the narrative soon descends to the depiction of the average dailiness of the daily and the little emotional dramas it entails, leaving the fundamentals to fend for themselves.