White Noise

Delillo's White Noise and the Family

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 his family and the "extrasensory rapport" that he shares with them that 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 "doubting" of reality, arguing, for example, that it's "all a question of brain chemistry, signals going back and forth, electrical energy in the cortex" (45). Jack is caught in a perpetual tension between experiencing reality and relationships with his family as "actual" while simultaneously being told that there is no "actual," that man is nothing more than "the sum total of" his...

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