In hindsight, most scholars today believe that the Cold War, an era of mutual suspicion that resulted in a competitive arms race between the United States and the former Soviet Union after World War II, was unavoidable. During the fact, most Americans, (and probably most Russians) feared that Nuclear War, the apocalyptical annihilation of the human race through the use of the hydrogen bomb, was imminent. The intense atmosphere of trepidation was overwhelming to the individual and omnipresent amongst society. As astute social artist, writer Don DeLillo and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick were both highly sentient of this fear and reflected upon it in their works, Pafko at the Wall and Dr. Strangelove, respectively. Despite their commonality in theme, these two works differ vastly in their attitudes, one grave and one satirical; and it is this difference that indicates the contrasting feelings of the artist. The variation of personalities and symbolism of DeLillo's short story Pafko at the Wall and Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove clearly show DeLillo's sympathy and Kubricks abhorrence towards the prospect of Nuclear War.
DeLillo's characterization of John Edgar Hoover reveals his own acceptance of Nuclear War, whereas Kubrick's depiction of all the world leaders signifies his utter disgust towards this illogic. Hoover's hyperawareness of the world around him contrasts starkly with the myopic minds of the dignitaries in Kubrick's war room. Upon receiving the news of the Russians atomic testing, Hoover spent nearly a page in the novelle reflecting upon it. "He stamps the date it works into him, makes him think of the spies changes him physically as he stands there, drawing the skin tighter across his face, sealing his gaze" (DeLillo 23-24). He receded into a memory of Pearl Harbor then envisioning "the sun's own heat that swallows cities"(DeLillo 24). Acknowledging his current surroundings, Hoover realized, "all these people formed by languages and climate and popular songs and breakfast foods and the jokes they tell and the cars they drive"(DeLillo 28), the fans, the city beyond, the country even, were all, "sitting in the furrow of destruction"(DeLillo 28).