Incongruities with Nick??


Hi all-

I noticed that Nick's character bothered me more and more as I went on through the novel. I feel like I would have been fine with him and his act if it hadn't been for his years in prison and at the Jesuit school, where he seemed legitimately repentant and as if he would mature more softly. After examining his whole arc, as an acting, calloused middle-aged guy and basically and asshole kid, I was confused by what DeLillo intended by his Jesuit years.


Different Roles


On page 806, Nick describes the way that Matty's kids felt at their Grandmother's funeral when they saw their dad for the first time as a brother and as a child. This same logic seems to apply to other characters. There's Nick the guy who has two kids and a wife and a job, but hidden beneath that there is Nick the murderer who his wife doesn't know. I think it's really interesting to think about the way that Nick may be a father and a husband to the world, but he will always be the murderer in his heart.



I found the section that finally describes how and when Nick killed to be surprisingly disturbing and haunting. It starts on page 778 and ends right before the epilouge of the book. This scene is supposed to be the climax of the novel, even though it happened before most of the action. Underworld does follows the classic structure of a novel (intro, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion), except for the movement of time.
Anyway, I think this is probably the most emotional scene in the book, which would make sense as this is what forms Nick's character and estranges him from his brother, and makes him a "country of one". The description of George, "the little brightness in his eye", is startling. And obviously we ask- did he want to die? Was he playing Russian roulette- almost daring Nick to pull the trigger? Certainly seems like that, and Nick thinks so too. The repetition of "the way the man said no when he asked if it was loaded" and "first he poined the gun at the man's head" simulates Nick's thoughts- over and over and over- what just happened? This section is very well written and it shows more personality insight than we get in most of the rest of the book.

The (hyper)real - postmodern v. modern

This is partly in response to the "Maybe?" post from below, as well as a continuation of a thread from class on Monday. I don't know about the east-west / modern-postmodern parralel regarding Matt and Nick, but I think it'ss quite useful for unpacking the differences between Nick and Klara. Both moved westward from New York (allegorically, from modernity to postmodernity), but the two have reacted to the shifts in very different ways. The seeds of this theme are planted early. During their first encounter after so long, Klara wonders if life didn't "take an unreal turn at some point;" and "becasue [she's] famous," but because "it's just unreal" (73), to which Nick responds in swiftly modern judgment: "I lived responsibly in the real.

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