White Noise by John DeLillo

2016 Words9 Pages
1. Jack Gladney: The narrator in the novel who lives in a town known as Blacksmith. Jack is the chairman of a department of Hitler studies at College-on-the-Hill. He “invented Hitler studies in North America in 1968” (4). Jack is married to Babette, his fourth wife. They live together with four children from previous marriages. Jack has another persona known as J.A.K. Gladney “to be taken seriously as a Hitler innovator” (16). As a professor of Hitler studies, Jack preserves a dignified image when wearing his “academic gown and dark glasses” (32). Jack like many Americans is bombarded by media and ideals of consumerism. He obsesses over his fear of death which is further influenced by the airborne toxic event. Jack is deeply in love with Babette and finds great comfort in their relationship. 2. Babette Gladney: Jack’s wife who is described by her physique as “tall and fairly ample” (5) is the mother of Denise and Wilder. She is caring towards her husband and children. Babette can be described as a rock with her sturdy and reassuring character who has a “careless dignity” (5). Babette teaches an adult education course and is a volunteer who reads to the blind. She reads to Old Man Treadwell, an elderly man, once a week (5). Babette also has a fear of death which she keeps to herself and does not tell Jack. She participates in an experimental drug trial in order to find a cure for her fear of death. The treatment causes side effects of memory loss which frequently affect Babette. 3. Murray Jay Siskind: A visiting lecturer from New York who is teaching a course on living icons (10). He speaks of the deterioration and destruction of American pop culture. While at College-on-the-Hill, Murray wants to create a department devo... ... middle of paper ... ...Why did the author write this work? What does he want us to take with us after reading it? Don Delillo wrote White Noise to show the detrimental effects of consumerism and the bombardment of media on our daily lives. He shows how it causes characters to blend reality with illusions and desensitizes them from what is truly real. For example, the SIMUVAC simulations which are rehearsals for a catastrophe that really already happened or the effects of the Dylar pill which blur what is actually occurring with sounds making it difficult to distinguish between the two. The book is also written with flashes of noise and and superfluous facts and data, mimicking how the media and TV bombard us with useless information today. This novel serves as a reminder of the effects of our changing culture due to technology, media and consumerism and encourages readers to be watchful.
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