Falling Man Questions and Answers
by Don DeLillo

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What is the purpose of the section names ("Bill Lawton," "Ernst Hechinger," and "David Janiak") in Don DeLillo's novel Falling Man?

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The different names that delineate the three major sections of Falling Man represent different ideas relating to the fear and anxiety that resulted from the terror attacks that occurred on 9/11 in New York City.

Bill Lawton is a mispronunciation of Bin Laden—the leader of the Taliban—by Keith's children. They hear it on the news and fear the name because of the association with the destruction, without even realizing who he really is. This represents several things, including the misrepresentation and lack of understanding that followed the events of the attack. Additionally, the name acts as an amorphous representation of pure evil: which is essentially what Bin Laden became. The name is irrelevant—the terror is real.

Ernst Hechinger is the name of a man with whom Lianne's mother lives. This is not his real name, as he changed it after fleeing Europe due to his own acts of terror and extremism. His inclusion in the story illuminates the idea that sociopaths can seem normal and be...

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