Most of Falling Man takes place in various locations in New York City, although there is a visit to gambling casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City toward the end of the novel. Alternate settings include brief visits to Germany and Florida in the sections in which the terrorists' lives are developed.
The novel begins as the protagonist, Keith Neudecker, is escaping the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center. As Keith and other characters re-live their harrowing experiences, the setting inside the towers becomes more and more vivid. There is a long walk down some ninety floors of one tower that some of the characters must endure, since elevators are not working. DeLillo describes the heat, the dead bodies, the smoke, and the debris that the people either pass by or pass through on the long march down the steps. The setting of the fire and escape from the towers is provided from different points of view and is returned to throughout the story.
Another portion of the setting occurs inside Keith and Lianne’s apartment as the two try to make sense of their lives and of their relationship. They often leave the apartment and walk about the New York streets: taking their son to school, jogging in the parks, and visiting friends in nearby buildings. In this way, a sense of the city, especially on foot, is provided.
Although not strictly a normal setting, a lot of time is also spent inside the heads of Keith and Lianne. Both of these characters are intellectual but also confused. Sometimes being inside these two characters’ psyches is dizzying. They get stuck on a thought and continually revisit it, taking the reader along on a ride that circles a central point and cannot get off it, like a toy train on a very small, circular track. Just when the reader thinks the story is moving on, that the character is actually progressing, the thought pops up again and the reader is thrown back inside the character’s head,...
(The entire section is 502 words.)