White Noise is a book written by Don DeLillo. The selected chapters, 21-27 from the text are all about the fruition of all that have been being foreshadowed in the previous chapters. There are several very important events that take place with chapter 21 containing most of them. It is in this particular chapter, 21, that the themes of fear, tragedy, the powerful effects of technology, artifice vs reality, and the dissemination and meaning of information become more complex. The fear of death that has been haunting Jack becomes real when he finds himself in the midst of a tragedy of the airborne toxic event. The subsequent chapters up to 27 seek to elaborate on the events surrounding the tragedy in detail that are quite intriguing.
I particularly like the juxtaposition of reality and artifice projected by the author through Jack’s situation. We see Jack, not threatened by the dangers woven into the tragic situation caused by the airborne toxic event. His prestige that is based on his power and authority has had him in a sort of a personal fable. He believes that they can shield him from the prevailing dangers that he found himself in. Well, the reality is that the criticality of the situation, the airborne toxic event, has been considered tragic and potentially deadly as aired through the media.
Steffie’s and Denise’s sweaty palms inclusion in the text as confusion, examining whether they are exhibiting the symptoms of the toxic exposure, in my view, is not convincing enough. One would argue that sweaty palms are usually a normal biological experience.
Giving death the shape of the airborne toxic event, which is both artificial and chemical, symbolically matches what he could argue to be its shape in these modern times. A premise supporting it is based on the pivotal position that technology has taken in the modern generation’s lives. Consequently, if a mishap or a malicious act affecting a certain product that almost the entire humanity is dependent on would cause massive harm to it.
DeLillo, Don. White Noise. New York, NY: Viking, 1985. Print.