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The Family As Seen in White Noise by Don DeLillo - Essay Example

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The family, in DeLillo’s White Noise, has been alluded to as dysfunctional. It strays away from the traditional family values. The onslaught of the media and the large amount of information readily available to all family members has dulled their senses…
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The Family As Seen in White Noise by Don DeLillo
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"The Family As Seen in White Noise by Don DeLillo"

Download file to see previous pages This has led to the reversed roles between the parents and children. The once solid core of mother, father and children are replaced by a unit of ex-spouses, siblings and step-siblings, a situation brought about by divorce. Jack Gladney, a professor at a local college in Blacksmith, has four children; Mary Alice (aged 19) and Steffie (9), from his first and second marriages to Dana Breed-love; Bee (12), from his marriage to Tweedy Browner and Heinrich (14), from his marriage to Janet Savory (now known as Mother Devi). Of all his children, only Heinrich and Steffie live with him. His wife Babette’s three children are Denis (age 11), Eugene (8), and Wilder(about 2). Blacksmith has been negatively affected by this condition of the family. Blacksmith holds testimony to failed marriages (DeLillo 59). Things change so rapidly that even the family members seem unclear on the details. Jack even refers to family as the “cradle of the world’s misinformation” (DeLillo 81).In White Noise, DeLillo shows how technology is changing the inner experience of human beings, through waves and radiation. Television serves as a type of new collective unconscious that creates an inner frame of reference to which the mind unconsciously turns. It has become a member of the family. Stephie murmurs "Toyota Celica" in her sleep. At one point, Jack says, “His skin was a color that I want to call, flesh-toned.” We are moving toward a postmodern mentality....
As a whole, the family members can not handle their emotions and are unable to think for themselves. Money has gained colossal meaning in our time. This has led to a devaluing of other values such as freedom, customer choice and respect for shoppers. DeLillo illustrates how the current world of commerce impacts our minds by manipulating our decisions. He goes further to illustrate that a human nature demonstrates immense vulnerability to such an attack. Ubiquitous commercials lead us to desire to have things we never tried before, to see things not worth seeing, to buy stuff we do not need. The novelist tries to open our eyes to identify and understand how this commercial destructive mechanism works. For instance, in one of the earlier scenes in the novel there is a picture of the family eating lunch. DeLillo focuses our attention on how the food on the table has been packaged: crumpled tinfoil, open cartons, bowl of past substances covered with plastic wrap, flip-to rings and twist ties and shiny bags of potato chips (DeLillo 7). Babette, Jack’s current wife, is a typical example of someone who gets attracted to shiny packages with bold, visible fonts, promising the good taste of the products. She is a perfect target for offensive commercials from the television, shopping malls and advertisements. She does not read the warning tags and shows a lack of interest in calorie values. In another incident, Jack, in a bid to regain his “lost” authority, takes his whole family to the Mid-Village Mall. They spent hours there, and it is the only time in the whole novel where the members of the family appear to be having a good time. They seem to be happy and satisfied. Jack later admits, “My family gloried in the event.” Jack surrenders to true shopping fever ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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