Literary Essay Sample: Don Delillo's The Names

Published: 2022-06-01
Literary Essay Sample: Don Delillo's The Names
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  American literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1131 words
10 min read

'The Names' remains to be one of the most thrilling and iconic literary works of Don DeLillo. The novel is brilliantly set against a background of Athens, Greece; is which a risk analysis American expert works for an insurance company. Unknown to him, the company he works for is a shadowy organization fronted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to counter terrorism activities (DeLillo). This introduces the reader to a world of shadowy executives who will do anything to profit from the turmoil in the Middle East. James learns of a death cult that exists in an area that is near where his wife and son, from whom he is temporarily separated, are currently living. His wife works at a nearby archaeological site that they are digging with a leading anthropologist. This literary essay will delve into the twenty-second of the twenty-seven depravities contained in the book. The essay will link the leading character of James Axton to the depravity of containing love by not showing it no matter how one feels it. The essay will portray how the leading character only shows this love after a protracted and long decision-making process.

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James Axton has passionate feelings towards his wife but he is reluctant to reveal them. He has the macho element of concealing his true feelings of love. This is why, irrespective of the issues between his wife and himself, James decides to temporarily separate from her but not divorce her completely. He keeps them, his wife and son, at an arm's length to show that although he loves them, he does not want to completely do away with them through a divorce that would put the final nail on their marriage. His love for the two of them is best portrayed through his travel all the way from the United States to Greece, where the wife is working on an archeological site. The separation between them is not enough to contain the love that James Axton for his young family, thus the main reason for wanting to be near them.

The other area in which James Axton is really passionate about but he attempts as much as possible to contain his love for it is his line of work. He is a risk analyst who works for an insurance company that insures other multinational entities in Greece (DeLillo). His appetite for risk leads him to follow through on a death cult of which he learned that could be possibly located near his wife's archeological site. He has a burning desire to study the various signs and language symbols that he believes belong to the death cult in an attempt to comprehend the mysterious and mythical ways of the cult enthusiasts. Part of his passion for unearthing the death cult revolves around the history and the profitability involved if he proves the existence of the said death cult. He tries as much as possible to contain his love for the death cult without giving away too many details to the rest of his colleagues.

Feelings of love that ought to be contained in the text are also seen through James Axton's wife. She pursues her passion for digging up archeological sites together with her boss, Mr. Owen Brademas. The reality is that the digging site possesses a lot of historical artifacts that are worth millions of dollars. It is this hidden wealth in the ground that both Axton's wife and her supervisor, Owen, that make them to passionately stick with the digging site. They have no plans to make this passion public, choosing instead to contain their desires and not showing it to the others because of the lengthy process involved in excavating the various linguistic and historical artifacts from the archeological site. There is no denying their inner desires, although they conveniently conceal this reality from the rest of the people around them.

The death cult that James is investigating has given rise to a myriad of symbolic and linguistic artifacts. This simple investigation has triggered a lot of international movements of experts and other stakeholders around the world (DeLillo). There are plenty of political and business deals to be done revolving these findings. All the companies, their executives, and other influential employees involved in these transactions are all looking to benefit from the rich history and linguistic artifacts being unearthed. They have their sights on the financial potential of all these dealings although none of the expressly states this. They have an undying love for the probable financial windfall that they are likely to make from these dealings, although all of them do not publicly show this love. It takes the reading audience a lot of time and pages to figure out the love that these men have for financial prosperity.

The majority of these businessmen are based in the Greek city of Athens though they can manage to make long trips to parts of Africa and continental Asia. They are people who have flown from their homelands to pitch their tents in Athens together with their families. It shows how they love the business deals to an extent to uprooting their families and relocating them to foreign lands so they can secure the financial transactions. The risk analysis job done by James revolves around the high stakes oil industry that stretches from the United States all the way to the Middle East countries. From the text, even the audience can discern this underlying containment of love for finances through the text, ''Americans used to come to places like this to write and paint and study, to find deeper textures. Now we do business.''

The above discourse confirms that the various characters in the novel 'The Names' have mastered the twenty-second depravity of containing their love. They have become proficient in concealing their inner passions because none of them wants to show it publicly and whenever it comes out, it is after a long drawn-out decision-making procedure. The theme of containing love as espoused by this depravity is best brought out by the main protagonist, James Axton. He passionately longs to be with his family that is all the way in Greece (DeLillo). He wants to be with his wife and son despite the fact that they are separated. He also secretly desires to unearth all there is to know about the death cult. The same containment of love is also seen in his wife who passionately pursues her career in the digging site, albeit voluntarily. The same can also be said of her supervisor archeologist, Owen. The same containment of love for money is seen in the number of dealers and numerous companies crisscrossing the planet to secure the best financial deals possible.

Works Cited

DeLillo, Don. The Names. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1989. Internet resource.

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