Don Delillo's White Noise

1041 Words5 Pages
Fear is a formidable force that alters people’s actions in certain situations. The biggest fear for the vast majority of the world is death, and people act in irrational ways to avoid it. The characters in the novel, White Noise, by Don Delillo react to death in unique ways. Jack approaches it with sheer terror, while Heinrich faces death impartially and rationally. Murray sees himself surrounded by death and remains continually enthralled by it, and Winnie Richards notes that death adds texture to life. White Noise projects societal views that are subliminal, that is part of an unrecognized background in our existence, so that we might hear and see them more clearly. Delillo does this through the “Toxic Airborne Event” which is caused by a…show more content…
Jack invents Hitler studies and becomes chairman of that department at the College on the Hill. He suffers immensely from thanatophobia. Jack’s connection to Hitler is that he finds comfort in the notion that his death seems miniscule compared to the Holocaust. Jack’s phobia consumes him, and the thought of his death is constantly on his mind, “I woke up in the grip of a death sweat. Defenseless against my own racking fears...Sweat trickled down my ribs. The digital reading on the clock-radio was 3:51. Always odd numbers at times like this. What does it mean? Is death odd-numbered?” (11.47). When Jack wakes up, his first instinct is that he is going to die and he is paralyzed in his fear. He is so absorbed by death that he believes he sees signs of it. Still frantic, he moves closer to his wife, Babette, for comfort. The thought of “Who will die first?” (4.15) he or Babette crosses Jack’s mind throughout the novel. He believes that “Love helps us develop an identity secure enough to allow itself to be placed in another’s care and protection” (6.29). Jack views Babette as the foundation of his life; he views her as a person that would keep him from dying. He knows that if she died, he would be mentally tortured out of solitude of her passing. His fear of death, however, keeps him from wanting to pass away first and fills him with guilt knowing that he would rather be lonely than die. While evacuating from…show more content…
She is the typical loving mother and spouse. She takes care of the family, and even reads to the blind, and teaches a course on posture to the elderly. Jack loves Babette unconditionally and opens his heart and soul to her. ”Babette and I tell each other everything...But when I say I believe in complete disclosure, I don't mean it cheaply, as anecdotal sport or shallow revelation. It is a form of self-renewal and a gesture of custodial trust” (6.29). In her evident honesty and integrity, Babette contrasts with Jack’s previous wives, who were closed off and secretive. He describes them as being a part of the intelligence community. Jack takes great consolation from Babette and the openness that characterizes their marriage. However, after the Airborne Toxic Event, things began to change. Jack found a small plastic amber bottle with the word “Dylar” written on it, hidden under the radiator cover in his bathroom. The bottle belongs to Babette, and he confronts her after sending a pill to be analyzed in a lab. Babette denies any knowledge of putting the bottle there and quickly changes the subject by having sex with Jack. After learning about Dylar from the analysis, Jack confronts Babette again about the drug. He says “It’s time for a major dialogue. You know it , I know it. You’ll tell me all about Dylar” (26.181). She reveals everything she knows about the drug. She tells Jack that the research firm thought it was too dangerous to test on
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