White Noise By Don Delillo Essays

White Noise By Don Delillo Essays

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In Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel White Noise, he tells a story of a society that is taken over by death anxiety. Every character acts out a different view on how people and the community, deal with this fear. DeLillo narrates through the voice of Jack Gladney, the main character, whose fear plagues every aspect of White Noise. His novel contains many structural choices and extensively uses Jack to suggest how death anxiety is the leading cause of destruction in a person’s life and how it consumes the way a person acts in society.
Jack is afraid of plots. DeLillo reveals this by splitting the novel into sections much like a person’s life: Plots have a beginning and end; they have a birth and a death. DeLillo sets up the first section as if someone is watching a thirty minute television show that has no depth or meaning. The end of chapter six Jack says that all plots move toward death and immortality can never be reached and all plots are corrupt (26). Meaning that Jacks theory is detected early on in the novel, that his mind is always focused on death. The second section is one massive chapter, or perhaps a movie. This section is long and drawn out and adds complexity to the story, connecting the beginning to the end. When the airborne toxic event happens the novel takes shape and suddenly a plot can be followed. The third section is almost inevitable, and “Is like a contract that [DeLillo] must have signed” (26). Jack decided to make his own plot; he wanted to write his own ending as if DeLillo had no say in the matter.
Much like everyone else in White Noise, Jack’s mortality is one thing he cannot seem to compromise with. Jack fears oblivion and wants to leave a legacy behind; he does not want to die as another corpse in the gro...


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...or a television program: he has to perfect the plan before he can “perform” it. The motel scene in the novel provides us with death anxiety and comfort because Jack has found his humanity. When he realizes the Willie Mink is a real person Jack shows “Compassion, remorse, [and] mercy” for human life and cannot go through with his plan (299). Therefore, when he gets shot his death anxiety seems to fade into a childlike state. DeLillo allows Jack to realize death is required for living and the fear of dying is normal. The way Jack becomes ‘immortal’ is by discovering his mortality; if the boundaries for dying are not defined then no one will know their limits. DeLillo stresses that people get too caught up in trying to be remembered and fearing how they will die that they forget how to live. Every story has to have an end and every person’s life as to come to an end.

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