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Literary Analysis of White Noise

White Noise is a novel by Don Delillo, places Jack Gladney, who apparently is the Hitler studies’ chairman on the College-on-the-Hill, to be a narrator and also the protagonist. Seemingly, Jack happened to have 5 marriages and had 4 ex-wives, while presently he was living with his fifth wife, Babette, a lady with whom he actually shares his personal feelings as well as an acute fear of demise. He too lives with quite a few children from his different wives (Riepe pp 2). The manuscript is split into 3 parts whereby part one is titled Radiation and waves; the second part is called the toxic airborne event; while the third is headed by Dylarama. The first part to a great extent approximately occupies almost half section of the story and it seems to have no steady plot, whilst the last two parts enclose two large actions–one regarding the airborne noxious event; and the other about the pills of Dylar, which are supposed to be supportive in exonerating the trepidation of death. Even though seemingly unrelated, all the novel chapters are narrowly interconnected towards each other and this conveys the main theme of the entire novel which is the dread of death.

As soon as one confronts the novel’s name, White Noise, they might inquire what the title actually represents. Nevertheless, even after the analysis of the entire novel, one may yet again inquire how the phrase “white noise” is in reality correlated to the novel. The vocabulary connotation of the expression “white noise” shows that it means stable, consistent, inconspicuous noise, like that of an electronically formed drone. Back in the novel, Babette and Jack identify fatality as something which continually exists surrounding them although they can neither hear nor see it. This perception nonetheless affects them greatly; precisely similar to what a white noise achieves. Seemingly, demise happens not to be the lone case that applies to the topic of white noise. Jack seems to be encircled by imperceptible sounds some of which are loud while others are not, and the people he comes across daily whether they participate in imperative parts in his own life or even not.

Therefore, for instance, all the radio adverts he listens to daily or the people he bumps into while inside the superstore can apparently be the models of the white noise within life. Advertisements, televisions, commercials, and kids all operate as a white noise throughout the novel and this implicitly affects addition to bothering Jack. Therefore the heading White Noise happens to be directly or indirectly linked to each theme and grips the novel as full.

Several substantiations signify that the White Noise novel is a characteristic postmodern book. They mainly express evidence signifying White Noise's novel being postmodern is the testing in its structure. As cited earlier, the initial half part of the novel is short of the conservative plot. Lacking this plot which possesses a causal affiliation, the novel progressively depicts several instances in Jack’s everyday lives like his pal Murray J. Siskind or his dialogues with his folks. This outburst in the figure of a book also stimulates the eccentric way a moment is transmitted in the narrative. With no definite time scale, the opening part, radiation, and waves itemize series of ostensibly disparate stories. Further support towards a postmodern book is the emergence of the famous popular culture. The novel also covers the immense manipulation of pop civilization on the people together with Jack himself.

The entire eye-catching ads and commercials counting radio and television commercials, and also the printed adverts in the book are all types of the general pop civilization that apparently influences Jack. Additionally, Murray appears to be himself a sign of a sort of pop culture. It happens that he is a lecturer who visited Jack’s college and was humiliated by whatever he had gathered thus far from pals in the popular culture. The same way Jack studies on Hitler, he is indenting to learn on the subject of Elvis Presley, apparently considered to as an envoy of pop culture. “I understand the music, I understand the movies, I even see how comic books can tell us things, says Murray (Brantlinger pp 132)

Although White Noise happens not to have a conservative design or even a distinctive time scale, Jack’s evolution or development within the novel may be examined via structuralism. Structuralism was originally extended in France, it is basically a faction in which all the human actions are studied semiotically. The majorly apparent type of structuralism found in the novel is the hero’s journey. The aspect of the hero’s journey actually is composed of 3 distinctive parts namely: exodus, commencement, and the return where each of them is composed of numerous smaller steps. Previous to the left, every conqueror is created bearing a birth flaw that can eventually put him/her into a deadly position. In this case, Jack has a deadly flaw which is the fright of fatality. This dread always pursues him and it is a nuisance to him in anything he undertakes. The initial stride in the leaving stage is the identification of an adventure. This aspect puts the hero or rather notifies him/her that their normal life will seemingly be altered and placed into a further convincing situation.

In the novel, jack’s leaving as a conqueror commences from the subsequent section of the novel labeled as the toxic airborne event. The first time convened to an exploration by recognizing the event of the airborne toxic, he initially is unwilling, and exactly as every hero in his/her journeys do. However, he is heartened by a prudent older individual, who is known as the mentor. The mentor in the book apparently would happen to be Babette, who is his wife. Through talking about each other’s internal thoughts, Babette makes Jack recognize his dread of death. He relentlessly thinks on the subject of the fright and attempts to evaluate it, which repeatedly plunges into disappointment. The subsequent phase of a hero’s expedition is a preliminary struggle, which in this case is the primary threshold. Jack’s preliminary fight would be heeding that he seemingly will pass on soon due to a toxic airborne event. Even though he tries to disregard his panic of passing away, he ultimately plummets into an unfathomable dread of demise. Therefore, supposing that he truly would pass on soon, his dread of demise is concluded (Lentricchia pp.80).

White Noise by Don Delillo brings out several themes such as technology pervasiveness, fear of death, and consumerism that acts as a defense to death.  It true to say that the fear of death absolutely lies at the core of this novel. This theme develops from various notable incidences in the novel such as the case when Babette declares her trepidation to Jack, the fear of the toxic airborne event, and the case revolving on Hitler as he proceeds to the supermarket (Martucci n.p.). These incidences actually circle the fear that human beings have towards death. It is seen that the characters in the novel have different approaches to death. For instance, jack approaches death with a lot of panics while Murray upholds death to be around him and continuously remains betrothed and enthralled to it. According to Winnie Richards death basically is meant to add texture to life and Heinrich approaches death from an analytical point of view. From the novel, we can see that Bebatte and Jack hypothesize that death is a perpetual drone of white noise. Don Delillo fails to conclude and thus leaves the novel in a state that is open. The close relationship that arises between white noise, death, and life may be held to mean that death hangs around in a sinister way to the background of human life and we should be afraid of it (Orr, p.29).

In White Noise, technology pervasiveness seems to be a phenomenon that is comforting and at the same time threatening. Contemporary technology in the novel is revealed by the steady stream of sounds from the media, widespread images, and the hum of the machines. Technology has indeed cropped into the lives of human beings. It is believed that it improves the efficiency of how human activities are done among other positive impacts. Therefore technology comprises the greatest part of the texture of human daily life.

Don DeLillo’s White Noise novel also intertwines flawlessly on both mechanical and human voices where the unnamed and beyond the grasp that lies within the human beings make technology to bring about anonymity. In most cases, this impartiality and distance appear to be totally comforting especially when the ATM authenticates the financial calculations of Jack that in turn brings peace of mind to him. In other situations, it proves to be very threatening this can be supported in the case where the SIMUVAC technician learns something that has an incredible significance towards Jack immediately after punching the details of Jack into a computer but yet he does not inform him. The toxic airborne event which was a cloud that threatened the people because it consisted of dangerous chemicals definitely introduces an image of technology that is frightening and it causes harm to the human (Lentricchia, p.63).


In White Noise it is clear that Don Delillo demonstrates the way technology plays its role in displacing nature and how it acts as a basis of sublime experience. Technology causes danger to nature more especially through the invention of bombs and it has been considered that postmodern technology is the likely source of the sublime. It will be realized that section four of the novel clearly dwells on replacing the natural environment with a contemporary technological environment which in turn shows the associated adverse effects of this.

The themes in this novel play a big role and generally help in making up the whole novel but they look to be quite different. These themes can actually be combined into one broad idea that is the white noise. The contemporary world that we now live in is indeed packed with various kinds of white noise that we are unable to establish the fact that lies around them. This is just like what happens to Jack in this novel where we realize that he is bordered by steady and unnoticeable noise. This also occurs in lives where we happen to find that we face various situations that influence our lives and others that have no influence such as unnecessary advertisements on the radio, meeting a lot of people especially in the supermarkets and schools, or even watching television events that we may fail to remember them after a period of time. White Noise, therefore, is meant to depict the contemporary life of the people and the basic facets that greatly affect people.

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