By Don Delillo
White Noise is the first American novel that really begins to talk about how television and commercial
culture has become so invasive and has impacted our daily existences.
***Authentic Self*** (the self before introduction of media—Paris Hilton example)
The things that make sense of our lives – to give one’s life meaning (for Christians it’s the bible)
Jack looks at the ATM as a form of Meta-narrative because it makes him feel secure in his
We need an external object or narrative to reflect back on us and give us validation
If they grew up in a world before media was so profuse, they needed security and a belief system
to call on to reinforce their existence, but the modern generation (kids) does not need that meta-
narrative—they grew up without it and they just watch television and do what they want to do and
They haven’t known a time when there wasn’t media or things—kids define
themselves by media and things and they are fine with it.
is someone who engages either deliberately or whose behavior results in social, cultural or
behavioral change—the change agent is Jack Gladney, the main character.
What happens when Jack finds
himself in the middle of the post-modern world.
The world around the main character is a post-modern world full of consumer advertising, gadgets,
supermarkets, data-- and in the midst of this post modern world television, advertising, and the media
has taken over to give us a modern character in Jack Gladney.
In this post-modern world in which television, radio talk shows, toxic spills, and academia exist
simultaniously in the modern world and uses the television as a metaphor to weave in and out of the
reality of daily life; becomes and intrigal part of daily life.
Everything seems to be flowing and shifting in this white noise – all of this at the same time.
Narrator of the novel, and the chairman of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill.
lives in Blacksmith, a quiet college town, with his fourth wife, Babette, and four of their
children from previous marriages.
He moved there from the big city to try and create a
perfect world—a world more secure. Jack often worries that he will be found lacking or
incompetent, and as such he surrounds himself with things that make him look weighty
and dignified by association such as using Hitler to give him his existence (he even
changes his name to J.A.K. Gladney to seem more important).
Jack obsessed with fear of
his own death, a persistent dread that becomes magnified by his exposure to a toxic
Jack loves his wife, Babette, deeply, finding great comfort in her honesty and
strength, especially since all of his former wives worked in espionage (lying) and secret
Father of Heinrich and Steffie.