White Noise Critique
Keiran Rump’s essay, “The Wilder State in DeLillo's White Noise”, essentially analyzes the character of Wilder. He explains how Jack and Babette wish they could return the simple state of naivete and innocence that Wilder portrays. He is completely carefree and uncorrupted. Jack is the complete opposite of his young son. An endless stream of white noise, both technological and human, characterizes Jack’s life. As he wades through the never-ending currents of data and chatter, Jack senses something larger, deeper, and more primal emanating from behind, or possibly within, all the noise. Babette, Jack’s wife, reveals to Jack halfway through the novel that she, like Jack, fears death, and has betrayed him to test an experimental drug that promises to reduce her fear. She wants to die before Jack, however, as she fears loneliness even more. Her other major desire is for her toddler son Wilder to stay the same. The major theme of the novel is that death lurks everywhere, especially in the “white noise” of the modern world – specifically in the waves and radiation with which we surround ourselves. Ultimately, Wilder refutes death in the same way he refutes life. In his riding his tricycle across the highway, he refuses the fear that grasps everyone else in the novel. In refusing to speak, he refutes the consumerist life that is so pervasive in the lives of those who surround him. Wilder's barbaric yawp is an existential yawp. He Fine 2
refuses Jack's and Barbette's fear of death and embraces his life. It’s safe to say that Wilder is Camus' stranger. One could also say that Wilder is seeking death in his wild ride and at the end, when he doesn’t find it, he releases his cries in the midst of the meaningless nature of life. It would appear then that Wilder, in his seemingly bewildered mystical state, does not find death. Rather, he discovers life and mourns his lack of death. This is of course a juxtaposition of Jack and Barbette's obsession...
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