White Noise Criticism

As with all of Don Delillo’s novels, answering the question “What is this novel about?” can be tricky. With multilayered plots and insignificant plot elements that can be misconstrued as the main idea, Delillo is a master as making us work at finding out the answers. When reading the criticism for White Noise, I was struck by how many different approaches the authors took to this novel. One in particular that I had trouble agreeing with was “Closing the Loop: White Noise” by Tom LeClair. LeClair discusses the different subgenres introduced in White Noise. On page 389, LeClair says: Delillo inverts “yet another subgenre-the college novel “? to illustrate for whom new knowledge is a threat.” While I do agree that there are many subgenres present, I don’t think that the collegiate characters are the only ones who are threatened by new knowledge. Babbette isn’t included in the college “scene” and she is one of the most threatened characters in the novel. I don’t agree that this is a college novel. LeClair continues on to say, “this attitude toward knowledge is madness.” He is referring to Jack and Babbette. It appears that Jack and Babbette would have been afraid, would have been consumed by madness, no matter what profession or environment they were in. They pass their madness on to their children in a way that leads me to conclude that one’s home environment adds more to one’s attitude towards knowledge and information than do outside influences. One topic however that I did partly agree with LeClair about was regarding Babbette’s size and how Jack was comforted by her “ample” stature. “He takes comfort in his imposing figure and reminds her that he enjoys the protection of her mass: “there was an honesty inherent in bulkiness'(7)” (394) I do agree that Jack was comforted greatly by Babbette’s body. However, I feel it had to do with a sort of Oedipus complex rather th…

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