Postmodern Paranoia, Schizophrenia, and Social Justice in Don DeLillo’s Libra

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD Candidate of English Literature, Department of English Language and Literature, South Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, South Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran



The present article attempts to demonstrate how Don DeLillo’s Libra addresses the lack of social justice because of the domination of paranoia and conspiracy in the contemporary American society. John Rawls, the late Harvard University professor, has written about a just society and a utopian world in his major works. In Libra, DeLillo explores the assassination of Kennedy by Oswald and its adverse effect on society in general. In this novel, paranoia is experienced as paranoid schizophrenia, in which sufferers exhibit traits of both of them. Although Libra is based on historical events and real-life figures, it is not an attempt to produce a historically accurate version of these events. DeLillo does not aim to explain what really happened on that day, or establish an unequivocally true account of the assassination conspiracy. Rather, he uses the character of the conspirator Everett’s young daughter Suzanne to portray the disturbing paranoid state. By combining fragmented reality and evoked paranoid responses DeLillo is producing a work of literature by illustrating how this paranoid schizophrenia breeds social disease. Therefore, the main objective of this paper is to illustrate there is no social justice in this paranoid postmodern world.


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