White Noise by DeLillo
You don’t need to write my name, date, or something… please just write about below and clearly label the number before you write
Prewriting instruction is pretty long so if I choose a writer, then I will send the writer later.
2. White Noise (up to 241)
You can choose one of the questions(not all of them) and answer it.
Section III: Dylarama (166)
Question 1: On page 187, Winnie says that in the twentieth-century, one hides from the unknown (187). Why does Winnie believe in the 20th century people must hide? What is the significance of her character?
Question 2: Part of a primitive, superstitious belief may be the concept that thinking of something will cause it to happen (198). Babette also believes in the determinism of chemical impulses: “They can trace everything you say, do and feel to the number of molecules in a certain region” of the brain (200). What might be a connection between the way Babette believes if she thinks something bad, it may happen, and the “scientific” belief in the determinism of chemical impulses in the brain?
Question 3: Jack and Babette suggest that death is an electronic white noise, a threat to personality even while it is an escape from personality (198). Babette said the Dylar researcher Mr. Gray said her “loss of memory is a desperate attempt to counteract [her] fear of death” (202). In what way is white noise similar to death? How might the fear of death or the attempt to escape from death be worse than death itself? How does DeLillo tie the fear of death to our consumer culture?
Question 4. DeLillo suggests that the more we advance through technology, the more primitive society may become. What are some different ways of dealing with death or the threat of death that DeLillo presents in White Noise? (175, 205, 219, 223) What are the consequences of such coping mechanisms?
Question 5: Set in the late twentieth century, how does White Noise comment upon the role of the mass media and technology in our time period? How does the novel help us to see the fabric of our daily lives from a different perspective? Can you think of specific examples from the media or your experiences that can be illuminated by DeLillo’s novel? What narrative strategies does DeLillo use, and for what purposes?
Question 6: How does the motif (repeated pattern) of tv tie into the theme of death?
Question 7: After the chemical cloud disaster, we see the people of Blacksmith acting in odd ways—rehearsing for disaster in a hope of staving it off (205), yet when there is a real toxic smell, no one says anything about it or takes any action (270). Is there a better way of dealing with disasters than just rehearsing for them or avoiding them?
Question 8: Winnie advocates awareness of death (229), since fear can raise self-
awareness “to a higher level” (229). She says that “if death can be seen as less strange. . .your sense of self in relation to death will diminish, and so will your fear” (229). What do you think of her comments in relation to the plot of White Noise?
Question 9: Why do you think there are so many spies referred to in the novel? (213) How might this relate to the overall themes of a complex world?
Question 10: What role do possessions play in Jack’s identity, and why does he begin throwing things away? (222) What role do you think possessions play in our identity?
Question 11: While we have come to see Murray as a reassuring figure, why does he believe that car crashes are a like a holiday, lighthearted, carefree, and high-spirited, if you look past the violence (218)? What does this say about his area of study, popular culture?
Question 12: What do you think of Murray’s idea that the tv is like a primal force, a
Question 13. Does Babette’s idea of watching tv as a family to make it less glamourous work? Why or why not? (16)
Question 14: Why might Denise have taken to wearing the visor all the time? (37)
Question 15: Describe the family relationships in White Noise. How might this relate to the overall themes of modern society, technology, and death?
3. White Noise favorite passage and discusstion question
• Choose a favorite passage (paragraph) in the novel to reflect on. Type out your passage and write a brief paragraph about why it interests you.
• Come up with a discussion question you would like to ask about the novel and post that.
* Read the passage and question by one of your classmates and write a one paragraph response to the question.
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