We didn’t get to discuss the significance of poker in the book during our class discussion and as I read on, DeLillo described Keith and his friends poker nights, I began to think about what DeLillo could be alluding to through the game and how the men treat it.
What I came up with was this: the game of poker was a metaphor for their lives. Poker is a game of chance, one is given a certain amount of cards and must use them to the best of their ability within the confines of whatever version of poker they are playing. Much like life itself. Everyone is born into a family, a socioeconomic standing and their own personality and abilities. I believe DeLillo alludes to this when he says, “men rolling their shoulders, hoisting their balls, ready to sit and play, game-faced, testing the forces that govern events” (96). Basically the old saying, “you play the hand you’re dealt”.
But I also believe the metaphor says more. As they play, they each come up with different guidelines, rituals, or rules. A few examples: no food while playing, only dark liquors and beers, as well as allowing fewer and fewer versions of poker to be played, until five card stud was the only permissible option (97-98). DeLillo also mentions their affinity for the old story of the German men who stuck rigorously to their rituals at the top of page 99. He talks about their respect for the Geman poker players commitment and the “transcendent effects of unremarkable habit” (99). As I thought more and more about this, it seemed to me as though they are all looking to their poker nights for a sense of stability and consistency.
DeLillo, Don. Falling Man. Thorndike, Me.: Center Point Pub., 2007. Print.