Don deLillo’s White Noise: Postmodern elements
Most postmodern books have been published after World War II. First published in 1984, White Noise by Don deLillo explores the emergence of technology, popular culture, and media in the eyes of Jack Gladney, a professor and the chairman of Hitler studies in the College-on-the Hill.
“All plots tend to move deathward,” Jack surprisingly remarks in one of his lectures. Considering his pervading fear of death and dying, this remark was totally unexpected. A “plot,” as defined in literature, is a series of events that propel the character forward toward a resolution, an end. However, Jack has a morbid notion of plots, and he believes that in the end, it will lead him toward death–the ultimate end.
This might explain why the earlier parts of White Noise lack the sense of a plot. Instead of moving the character forward, Jack often wonders about death, when he will die, and, “Who will die first?” between him and his wife, Babette.
The lack of a plot can be considered as one of the hallmarks or characteristics of postmodernism. The lack of plot or direction can already be discerned from the first few chapters of the book. At least, not the conventional plot where there is a beginning, a climax, and a resolution. The novel seems to be circling and meandering, without a straight path. Perhaps Jack’s fear toward death as the end of all plots is consciously trying to keep the novel away from the conventional sense of a plot, which seems, to Jack as a narrator, the reasonable thing to do.
However, in the third part of the novel, a plot is already starting to take shape, starting from Jack’s exposure to the toxic airborne... [continues]
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