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White Noise - De Lillo

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Introduction

Don Delillo's White Noise is a novel set in twentieth-century America, in a small town in the Mid-West. The story follows the life of Jack Gladney, a teacher of Hitler studies at university, and his family , (his fourth wife, Babette, and their four children from previous marriages) through their lives invaded by white noise, the constant murmur of American consumerism. The narrative follows these characters as they struggle to live distracting themselves from their sense of reality. White Noise explores the characters' deep underlying fears and uncertainties that keep them from discovering and revealing their true identities. In its first half called "Waves and Radiation", White Noise is a chronicle of absurd family life combined with satire. In the second half, a chemical spill from a railcar releases a "Toxic Event" over Jack's home region, causing an evacuation. After the evacuation, the Gladneys return home and their ordinary life resumes. Men in protective suits and German shepherd dogs patrol the town. Sunsets last for hours; silent crowds watch the spectacular colours from overpasses. ...read more.

Middle

and influence of television because people excessively rely on the media, intellectualism, underground conspiracies, the disintegration and re-integration of the family, environmental problems and human violence. The title "white noise" is a metaphor, saying that all of those elements, grouped together, create a disturbance and make it very difficult for individuals to express their ideas and personality. The novel deals with the interdependence between the individual and the community. Gladney's comments on life in present-day America are ironic, intelligent and grimly funny. The America described by DeLillo is a nation where no one is responsible or in control; all are receptors, receivers of stimuli, consumers. [ Children, in the America of ''White Noise,'' are in general more competent, more watchful than their parents; emotionally, they constitute a kind of early-warning system. They seem the only ones still attuned enough to the natural world. But children are also the targeted audience, the frequency to which the advertising industry and the media are tuned. ] ''White Noise'' finds its greatest distinction in its understanding and perception of America's soundtrack. ...read more.

Conclusion

DeLillo is very effective in his satire because he creates an atmosphere of normality and contrasts it with what really goes on behind the scenes. The passage provides a brilliant description of alienation and artifice in a consumerist world of abandoned meanings, where fear of death looms heavily but even the death has changed. the death that Jack fears is an artificial death not a real one. It's meaningful that the disaster is a toxic spill rather than a flood or a tornado. Values are lost in a society which is safe on the surface but menacingly poisonous in the inside reality. White Noise provides a terrible vision of the world at the top of the television power, before Internet because the novel also shows how people are infatuated by televised disastrous events. It shows that our lives are based on what the media tells us. White Noise is like a demented sitcom, full of dark comedy, and unique neurotic characters. With its powerful warning and severe descriptions of a picture-perfect community on the verge of total disaster, DeLillo has hit the heart of modern society, exposing it for all that it really is: waves and radiations. ...read more.

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