||For the readers of White Noise, the first issue he or she has to deal with is the relationship between the society and the individual. But DeLillo was never straightforward in Jack’s narrative. From time to time, the reader is asked to judge by themselves about the authorial intention and the narrator’s attitude toward the characters’ suffering. As both the narrator and a character, Jack Gladney typifies the tension of locating the hope of resistance in a seemingly hopeless situation. As the narrator, Jack’s attitude toward the corrupting force of the society would seem to vacillate among indifference and affirmation. Yet, his indifference would appear to be sarcastic or even accusatory if one remembers that he or she is reading one of DeLillo’s novels. The interpretive deadlock, then, can be summarized into the following question: if DeLillo intended to posit the possibility of resistance through the process of writing and reading, how can it be realized in the protagonist with whom the reader is invited to identify? Numerous approaches are adopted by the critics, and yet the enigmatic ending of the novel continues to challenge the results of their efforts. With ease, Jack Gladney returns to his normal routine after he nearly kills a man, but it is indicated that he is never the same person as exhibited in the previous chapters. |
To determine the nature of transformation and its implication for the existence of hope, this thesis sets out to dissect the important elements in the last chapter. As the novel ends in Jack’s shopping, the chapter two of this thesis traces the influence of capitalism on the characters. It is found that the characters’ enjoyment of the consumerism is correlative with a fundamental imperfection in their sense of self. In narrating the stories about him, Jack Gladney cannot hide his anxiety for failing to be a good professor, husband and father. From a Lacanian perspective, the disjointedness reveals the failure of the system to provide all his needs. Still, Jack and others are spurred to immerse harder in the ever-revolutionizing mode of enjoyment, endlessly deferring from confronting the void inherent in all their pursuits.
Before Jack returns to shop for the last time in the novel, however, he is infected by toxic substance that causes him to eye the capitalist system with suspicion. During the outbreak of the disaster, the New Age belief system, painful enjoyment and environmental crisis are associated with the oppressive force of capitalist development. They all reappear in the end of the novel, yet they are no longer threats for Jack; instead, he finds them enjoyable. In the chapter three of this thesis, my analysis recounts how the characters’ reluctance to depart from their routine of enjoyment contributes to their intentional disavowals of the injuries the system brings to them. In Jack’s case, the biopolitical control that results in the elevation of the status of medical science and enjoyment causes him to resubmit himself more violently to the system. He becomes a killer and enjoys seeing himself as such who seems to contribute to all the subjects in the capitalist society. It is after such sad transformation that the final chapter begins, suddenly deflating the emotional turbulences accumulated throughout the previous chapters. The enigmatic vacuum is still accompanied by signs of Jack’s transformation. However, the omnipresence of death in the chapter seems to weaken the certainty for a pessimistic future of suffering in the capitalist system. Waiting before the checking out point, Jack is in fact facing to the end of vicious circle symbolically. The unfathomable death corresponds with the impossibility the reader encounters when interpreting the text. As the readers cannot determine what will happen after the terminal, they are actually freed from chopping the text for constructing hopes that will be contradicted by the remaining paragraphs at one point or another, while they have to put down the novel and go on living with the similar situations the novel portrays. Herein resides the hope: externalizing the deadlock of life for the reader, the end of White Noise testifies the ongoing procession of human history that cannot be anticipated beforehand.