Perception of the World and False Images from White Noise Essay

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Perception of the World and False Images from White Noise Don DeLillo's award-winning novel White Noise takes the idea of the supremacy of false images to the extreme. Through various scenarios, such as the airborne toxic event and the Dylar dilemma, DeLillo critiques contemporary society's over-dependence on false images. The characters in the novel that exemplify this over-dependence appear humorous on one hand, yet tragic on the other. The humor comes from the novel's characters behaving like cartoon characters who continually get hurt, but keep coming back for more. The novel's characters keep getting hurt by false images, yet continue to believe in them, causing the reader to smack his or her head in astonishment.…show more content…
Jack, as a department head, must wear a black academic robe while at the college. He likes the idea, especially the flourish that results from him checking his watch, saying, "Decorative gestures add romance to a life" (9). Jack, speaking of Hitler, says, "Some people put on a uniform and feel bigger, stronger, safer" (63). I believe he is also talking about himself. Then there is the matter of his name. Jack, at the advice of the chancellor, had changed his name to J.A.K. Gladney by inventing an extra initial. The chancellor also told him to gain weight to look more formidable. "He wanted me to ‘grow out’ into Hitler. If I could become more ugly, he seemed to be suggesting, it would help my career enormously" (17). Jack's false image is thus threefold: his name, his size and his dress. By projecting this image, Jack feels trustworthy, strong and important. Jack is not the only one projecting false images. Jack seems to be a magnet for those projecting false images. "It was curious how I kept stumbling into the company of lives in intelligence," he utters when pondering the fact that two of his ex-wives led secret lives (213). I have to wonder if his desire to project a false image attracts him (or makes him attractive) to those doing likewise. Jack had named his son Heinrich because "it was a forceful name, a strong name. It has a kind of authority" (63). Granted Heinrich had no control over his name at the time it was
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