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White Noise


Submitted By EA925
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Essay Exam 4
4. One character that we can analyze is Jack Gladney. when looking at the major personality traits and characteristics of Jack in the book White Noise. Jacks need to change his image due to his position at the College on the Hill is something that struck me as a gender bias. His need to look tough because of his position at the school is described in chapter 4 as follows. “ the chancellor had advised me, back in 1968, to do something about my name and appearance if I wanted to be taken seriously as a Hitler innovator” (Dellilo, 34) Jack later goes on about how he was advised to gain more weight and even grow out a beard to better represent what he was teaching. This describes how Jack has to fit a certain look because he represents Hitler and Jack conforms to these expectations.
Jacks desire to conform and fit this image that he has been labeled with is shown again in Chapter seventeen when he runs into Eric Massingale, a fellow College on the Hill professor, at the mall. Massingale is surprised at how different Jack looks out of his college attire. Some or Eric Massingales comments are as follows “I've never seen you off campus, Jack. You look different without your glasses and gown” “You look so harmless, Jack. A big, harmless, aging, indistinct sort of guy.”(Delillo, 106-107) Jacks encounter with Eric prompted him to go on a shopping spree to overcompensate for his harmless image. Jacks desire to fit into his created persona shows the readers that he is uncomfortable with his normal self and he tries to hide himself with the whole Hitler image that he created.
Denise the the eleven year old daughter of Babette is someone who I think shows how someone does not fall into the typical gender roles of this country and society. Right from the beginning of the story Denise was and would continue to be the most vigilant of the way her mother Babette acted. In chapter ten “"Plus I'd like to believe she chews only two pieces a day, the way she forgets things." "What do I forget?" Babette said. "It's all right," Denise said. "Never mind." "What do I forget?" Denise mentioning and noticing these things before anyone else including Jack showed how she was very aware of her surroundings and how she cared about her family. Later in Chapter twenty seven it is revealed that she would be the one to find her mothers Dylar and ultimately dispose of it. When Jack questioned her about the dylar she refused to hand them over unless they told her what they were for and if they didnt her response was."Then I'll throw it away," (Delillo When the two adults in a family have basically fallen and subdued to their fears Denise was the one who tried to take control of the situation by throwing away the Dylar that both parents sought and was a large reason for their troubles. I think that this demonstrates someone moving away from their gender roles because it shows what is supposed to be a harmless and weak little girl take control of a situation that her parents have failed to take control of. 2. The largest fear that occupies Jack Gladneys life is the fear of death. Before The Airborne Toxic Event Jacks fear of death was alive and kicking as we see in the earlier chapters were he mentions it and even talks to his wife about who is going to die first. during The Airborne Toxic Event Jack is exposed to the chemicals while refilling his cars gas tank. When a doctor tells him that his exposure may have reduced his life expectancy Jack becomes more consumed in his fears that loses himself and is consumed by the mystery of Dylar that his wife had been taking as well. An example would be him not being able to sleep anymore due to his fears. “I only want to check it out, give it a try. I don't believe in magical objects. I only say, 'Let me try, let me see.' I've been lying here for hours practically paralyzed” (Delillo,231). Jack’s fears grew after the Airborne Toxic Event and they lead him to desperate measures later on in the book. His fear of death also has a negative on the relationship between Jack and his wife Babette like we saw in the previous quote Jack learns of Babbettes use of Dylar as well as learning that she cheated on him to aquire dylar from Willie Mink. Jacks desire to test out Dylar for himself as well as his dislike of Willie leads him to a breaking point towards the end of the book. Babbette fear also the same fear as her husbands which was death seemed to have a larger impact on her because she went through desperate measures to acquire the drug dylar. Before the Airborne Toxic Event Babbette was portrayed as the normal wife.Jack says about her “This is the whole point of Babette. She's a joyous person. She doesn't succumb to gloom or self-pity.”(Delillo 200). Babette was described as a girl who liked her life, her kids and her job. She even said to Jack at one point that she would rather die first so that she would not be alone. When first questioned about Dylar by Jack she claims she does not remember if she took anything and goes on a rant about her life. Jack responds with “Sounds like a boring life” and she responds with “I hope it lasts forever” (Delillo 74) Her saying that showed how she hid her true feelings and important things like Dylar from her husband and family. In chapter twenty six we see the first time she admits to using Dylar as well as cheating on him with Dr. Gray to keep on acquiring more to her husband Jack and the reasons behind it are because of her fear to die, the same fear that Jack has. I think that the Airborne Toxic Event was the catalyst to all these secrets unfolding and coming out because they made both Jack and Babbette more aware of their fears.
Works Cited

DeLillo, Don. White Noise. New York: Penguin, 1999. Print.

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