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War as a Form of “Apotheosis”

The Militarization of the USA and Don DeLillo’s ‘End Zone’

Alessandra De Marco

Pages 63 - 81


The present paper investigates Don DeLillo’s 1972 ‘End Zone’, arguing that football is a metaphor for war and that DeLillo’s analysis of football and its culture effectively constitutes a critique of the war mentality undergirding American society. In this novel DeLillo meditates on the historical process that historian Michael S. Sherry calls the “militarization” (xi) of the USA and that, since the 1930s, turned the country into a military and economic superpower allowing a war mentality to enter deep into the grain of American culture. The essay will read DeLillo’s focus on language against Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok’s psychoanalytical theories on demetaphorization as the linguistic counterpart of melancholia and against Herbert Marcuse’s notion of functional language as a linguistic behavior that facilitates the annihilation of critical thinking. Both functional language and demetaphorization allow militarization to enforce its own discourse. Suffering from melancholia, the novel’s protagonists fall prey to incorporation, a process whereby they disavow death as the product of war and, with it, pain, suffering, and destruction. As a result, the novel offers a cautionary tale about the consequences arising from an excessive exaltation of war as a means through which a nation seeks to affirm its “apotheosis” (‚End Zone‘ 162).


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