Essay on Theme of Death in White Noise

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White Noise

Death is probably the most feared word in the English language. Its undesired uncertainty threatens society’s desire to believe that life never ends. Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise tells the bizarre story of how Jack Gladney and his family illustrate the postmodern ideas of religion, death, and popular culture. The theme of death’s influence over the character mentality, consumer lifestyle, and media manipulation is used often throughout DeLillo’s story. Perhaps, the character most responsive to death is Jack Gladney. In fact, he is so consumed by his fear of death that his ordinary thought processes are often interrupted by the question: “Who will die first” (DeLillo 15)? In Jack’s mind: “This question comes up from
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Duvall notes that “forms of credit…are crucial to Jack’s function as a consumer,” and Jack stops thinking about death by thinking of it in terms of a credit card: a way to delay the payment process(136). Furthermore, Jack uses his credit to create a sense of power over his fear of death. “I sent clerks into their fabric books and pattern books to search for elusive designs. I began to grow in value and self-regard. I filled myself out, found new aspects of myself, located a person I’d forgotten existed….The more money I spent, the less important it seemed. I was bigger than these sums” (DeLillo 83-84). According to Mark Conroy, author of “From Tombstone to Tabloid: Authority Figured in White Noise,” this illustrates “what one could call DeLillo’s Law of Consumption: that people expend money in direct proportion to their fear of death or dishonor” (102). Again, Jack would hide the idea of death through shopping by purchasing items that gave him a fresh, new look; a look that death would not give because death is old and bland. During the attack of the “black, billowing cloud,” a man holding a television with a blank screen talks about the lack of media coverage on the event. “No film footage, no live report. Does this kind of thing happen so often that nobody cares anymore? Don’t those people know what we’ve been through…? Is it possible
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