White Noise

The Postmodern World of White Noise

Paula Geyh writes that “the term [postmodernism] is used by so many people in so many disparate ways, that it seems almost to mean or describe everything--and therefore, some of the critics of postmodernism would say, it means nothing” (1-2). Although the postmodern perspective is, indeed, difficult to pinpoint, its voice is clear in the novel White Noise. The postmodern perspective is exemplified in Don DeLillo's novel White Noise. In many ways, the novel is a description of “the traditional,” symbolized by protagonist Jack Gladney, fighting against “the postmodern,” or nearly everyone and everything else in his world. Geyh continues, “The novels of Don DeLillo… are remarkable for their ability to depict the often harrowing ‘realities’ of the postmodern world” (13). For Jack, these realities include family struggles, strange drugs, and an “airborne toxic event” in his hometown. As the title suggests, therefore, White Noise seems to be less about any events or people—the signal—and more about the space between them—the white noise.

While Jack is uncomfortable navigating the postmodern environment of SIMUVAC teams and Dylar pills, his fourteen-year-old son Heinrich seems to thrive in it. Heinrich is pleased to play chess by...

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