The Power of the Family in White Noise Essay examples

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The Power of the Family in White Noise

Don Dellilo's protagonist in his novel "White Noise," Jack Gladney, has a "nuclear family" that is, ostensibly, a prime example of the disjointed nature way of the "family" of the 80's and 90's -- what with Jack's multiple past marriages and the fact that his children aren't all related. It's basically the antipodal image of the 1950's "nuclear family." Despite this surface-level disjointedness, it is his family and the "extrasensory rapport" that he shares with them allows Jack to survive in his world. Murray, Jack's friend, argues that "The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted" (82). Heinrich, Jack's son, explicates this notion in his constant …show more content…

So in recounting "the smell of panties" etc., and viewing such encounters with either "irony, sympathy and fond amusement," Jack is able not only to affirm the present and escape the past, but accomplishes something much larger: namely the ability to affirm the "realness" of such feelings. Thus the family, in this instance Babette, serves as the medium through which Jack is able to overcome Heinrich's skepticism (which is representative of modern "science" (24)) as to the "reality" of human emotions. DeLillo's image, moreover, of Jack and Babette "rescuing" themselves "from the past" also suggests that without family or someone to commune with, man can become lost in the past.

DeLillo's novel is almost obsessively concerned with appliances: TVs, radios, microwaves etc. They are omnipresent, not only in the characters worlds but within the narrative itself. DeLillo repeatedly interrupts his narrative with sentences like "The TV said: And other trends that could dramatically impact our portfolio" (61) or "MasterCard, Visa, American Express" (100) or "That chirping sound was just the radiator" (94). Just as Jack's world is one suffused with such objects, so too is the narrative, a technique which DeLillo uses to force the reader into Jack Gladney's world. Objects play a dualistic role in Jack's familial life. Jack tells us that

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