Identity Crisis in White Noise
Don Delillo's White Noise is a novel set in twentieth century Middle America. The story follows the life and journey of Jack Gladney, a teacher of Hitler studies and his family through their lives invaded by white noise, the constant murmur of American consumerism. The narrative follows these characters as they struggle to live life distracting themselves from their sense of reality. White Noise explores a host of character's deep underlying fears and uncertainties that keep them from discovering and revealing their true identities.
The first character I would like to discuss is the protagonist, Jack Gladney. It seems as if Jack distracts himself from discovering his own identity, without it life is a mystery to him and it makes death even more mysterious. As Jack talks to Murray about death, he states that
The deepest regret is death. The only thing to face is death. This is all I think about. There's only one issue here, I want to live. (270)
Jack is obsessed with his fear of the unexpected. He explains to Murry that death does not make his life more satisfying, but only filled with anxiety. Jack does not want to know any information predicting his own demise, he is afraid of finding out his own "code", as in the case of his medical report that forecasts his death. There are many indications of Jack's identity crisis throughout the story-- a more prominent one is that of his identity as a teacher of Hitler studies. It seems as if Jack is fascinated with a man so in touch with death, and when teaching he hides behind large dark glasses and a black robe. It is here one would think Jack would feel most comfortable and powerful but instead, Jack states how he "spent a lot of time in my office, hiding...(261). Jack is afraid of reality, truth is uncertain and Jack can't handle it. Death is a part of life and the most indefinite of all, and to distract himself of this, Jack hides behind different...