ABSTRACT

Don DeLillo’s 1997 Underworld achieves a comprehensive portrayal of contemporary American culture by effectively demonstrating the way in which the Cold War has shaped and defined this era. Underworld is about the Cold War, how it shaped individual perceptions of nation and self, and it is about the end of the Cold War, how America moves forward after we have “won” this abstract war. In order to portray the influence of the Cold War, the novel weaves in and out of a multitude of characters’ lives and journeys backwards from 1992 to 1953. Such a multitude of time frames and references could be dizzying and demonstrative of a postmodern instability. However, there is a center of the novel to which all events, themes, and characters directly or indirectly relate. This central point is New York City, more particularly the small area of the Bronx surrounding Arthur Avenue, known as Belmont.