For DeLillo, the Kennedy assassination is an important event not only in his life, but as an author. The profound effect it had on DeLillo is evident in an interview where he states that "it's possible I wouldn't have become the kind of writer I am if it weren't for the assassination." The assassination left him with the feeling that he had lost a "sense of manageable reality" which made him more aware of "elements like randomness and ambiguity and chaos." It is these feelings that DeLillo would later convey in the character of Nicholas Branch in Libra. Branch must come to terms with his own feelings of confusion and self-doubt while investigating the death of Kennedy and the conspiracy that surrounds it. DeLillo expresses these feelings of randomness and ambiguity in the incidences leading up to the assassination. They are often presented in an uncertain way to convey the conflict between the facts, the eyewitness accounts, and the memories that often contradict one another, obscuring the truth:
“We still haven't reached any consensus on the specifics of the crime: the number of gunmen, the number of shots, the location of the shots, the number of wounds in the President's body – the list goes on and on. Beyond this confusion of data, people have developed a sense that history has been secretly manipulated.”
As DeLillo wisely points out in this interview, history has been manipulated so that we can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction. There is a passage in Libra where Lee Harvey Oswald gets into a shoving match with some Anti-Castro Cubans and not even Oswald can remember how it was started. There is a sense that not only the reader is being manipulated, but the characters as well. This is apparent when DeLillo writes, "Lee felt he was in the middle of his own movie. They were running this thing just for him." Oswald recognizes that the boundaries between what is real and what is not are beginning to blur. The simplest facts, like his...
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