Fear, Media and Mayhem in Don DeLillo’s White Noise
Keywords:White Noise, Don DeLillo, fear, media, consumerism
Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel White Noise highlights the impact of the dawning of the information age by exploring the ways heightened media consumption contributes to the fears and paranoia felt by the novel’s middle-class white family, the Gladneys. These internal conflicts prompt them to perpetually reinvent themselves in vain and often humorous attempts to defeat death in a world overrun by technology and (mis)information. In this paper, I utilize the work of American social psychologist James W. Pennebaker as a lens to evaluate how the incessant fear of death and ensuing mayhem developing in the minds and lives of the Gladneys correlates with their ages. Employing Pennebaker’s theories on age and mental development helps shed new light on many of the younger characters in the novel who are often overlooked in the scholarship, which tends to focus on Jack, whose fear of death propels the narrative to its near-murderous ending.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Todd Giles