On pages 114 and 115 of Falling Man by Don Delillo the character Nina makes a couple of statements about how we perceive ourselves in comparison to how others perceive us–in the physical sense. In response to the idea of seeing one’s face in the mirror she states:
“But that’s not you. That’s not what you look like. That’s not the literal face, if there is such a thing, ever…what you see is distracted by memory, by being who you are, all this time, for all these years…what we see is the living truth”.
This passage touches on two of the common themes of the book, identity and truth. The idea that way we perceive ourselves is not accurate to the way the world perceives us is a connection to how we, as Americans and victims of terrorism, view those who we believe to be villains. There is a lot discussion in this book about the rationale or the reasoning of those who attacked our country. This passage is a reminder that we each live in a progressive state, one with limits of perception concerning ourselves. The choices we make are based on the lives we have lived and what we believe to be the truth. The way others view those choices is not the same.
What does this mean for Lianne and the way she perceives her own life? She does not see herself and she does not see her own life for what it is. She sees a version of the truth tainted by her own memories–the things she once knew. The other question is what does this mean for the “villain” of this story? Are they accountable they way we perceive them to be or were they merely acting on the truth they saw?
As for identity, who are we really? Are we the person others perceive us to be–the “literal face”? Or are we the person created by our memories? What does it mean to not really know your own identity?
DeLillo, Don. Falling Man: A Novel. New York: Scribner, 2007. Print.
Escher-metacognition. Digital image. Web. 9 Nov. 2011 <Stacyspaulding.com>.