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FREE STUDY GUIDE FOR WHITE NOISE BY DON DELILLO
Jack looks secretly looks through the garbage compactor and finds all kinds of trash, much of which has sexual connotation: a tampon inside a banana peel; lipstick-stained underwear; crayon drawings of male and female genitals. Not finding the Dylar bottle, he goes to his own doctor again. The doctor and Jack get into a semantic discussion about health, but Jack will not admit that he has been exposed to the Airborne Toxic Event. Jack goes home and throws away old stuff, most of which was not broken, but only old (TV trays, beanbags, shoe trees, Star Trek needlepoint, etc).
While Jack is digging through the trash compactor for Dylar, Delillo has a chance to show us the garbage. This garbage represents as well what culture hides. Garbage is what is "dirty," "hidden," or "bad." In this scene, sex is what is hidden. The significance of this is that it recalls the earlier discussion about sex and death being related. Here they are once again brought together as the things that the culture tries to hide.
Jack and Babette are talking, and she says that being with Wilder helps her deal (with death) and Jack keeping busy is what helps.
Jack takes Heinrich and Mercator out to dinner. Mercator has defined himself as dependent upon the snakes; his only fear is that the humane society will not let him in the cage. He adds that it is naive to try to escape death because there are more people dead now than ever before.
Steffie is going to Mexico City to visit her mother but is afraid that her mother will kidnap her and not let her return. They decide that if that happens, they will hire someone to kidnap her back.
There is a SIMUVAC for noxious odor. Three days later there is a real noxious odor that stings the nose and creates a copper taste on the tongue. The people in the town do not do anything; they seem quite happy. The smell lasts for three hours, but no one seems to worry because they do not see any SIMUVAC personnel.
Babette moves towards a sane and healthy response to the fear of death: Wilder. By spending time with her young son, she is focusing on life, and thus the obsession with death wanes. Jack merely tries to keep so busy that he does not think about it.
Steffie has incorporated a few TV plots into her psyche. She is afraid of being kidnapped by her mother. There has been no suggestion that her mother is likely to do this, but since TV tends to hype these types of kidnappings and since Mexico is inevitably mentioned in these stories, Steffie takes on this fear as valid.
The people of Blacksmith have become so accustomed to the practice evacuations that when there is a real problem just three days after a practice, no one seems to care. In fact, they assume that since they do not see the SIMUVAC personnel, there is no problem. Thus, the real event does not exist while the simulation is taken seriously.
Janet calls and wants to know if Heinrich will be coming up to Montana to visit because the swami also considers him to be his son as well. Jack asks if this is a "serious" swami or a "whimsical" one. Janet says that they are all serious because this is the last age, the Age of Darkness.
The Hitler Conference is starting and all the delegates are arriving. Jack gives the welcoming speech in German (from notes), but it is comprised only of words that are essentially the same in English and German. Thus, he spends most of the disjointed speech talking about Hitlerís dog, mother, brother, jazz, and beer. He also speaks the name Hitler a lot so that the delegates will hear the word and be impressed. Since many of the delegates speak German, Jack can only laugh and nod when they talk to him. He spends most of the conference hiding in his office. The delegates have all taken on Hitler personas, doing things that seem Hitlerian.
Jack goes to another doctor at the Autumn Harvest Farms. When he arrives, the doctor tells him that he has a printout that can only be opened by Dr. Chakravarty. He then proceeds to asks Jack some general questions. Before Jack answers, he asks the doctor what a "normal" response would be. The doctor tells him and Jack states that is how he feels. After all of this, the doctor tells him that the computer shows that he has been exposed to Nyodene D which can cause a "nebulous mass." Jack seems remarkably pleased with this information, especially since the doctor tells him that his doctor will be able to understand the symbols on the sealed printout.
The Hitler Conference is comical, and thus ironic. Since Jack can only use words which are the same in English and German, his speech is disjointed. Delillo is showing how detached Jack really is from the death and destruction caused by Adolph Hitler.
The checkup with Chakravarty is not about getting better but about getting a doctor to tell him that he is okay; that is why he makes sure that his answers will be "normal." Even when he told about the "nebulous mass," he is comforted because "they" can name it. This idea goes back to the Airborne Toxic Event discussion between Jack and Heinrich about the knowledge inherent in naming.
Jack goes walking and meets up with Murray. He tells Murray about the mass and says that it is an unsatisfying way to die because it seems artificial. Murray is impressed that he is talking to a "doomed" man; he feels that this gives Jack more credence. Murray tells him that he does not believe that anything is stronger than death, not even love. He adds that he does not believe that death gives life value, but instead that death is what makes life incomplete. Murray then suggests that surviving death is a way to counteract the mass inside him. Murray concludes by saying that there are two types of people, killers and diers: "If he dies, you cannot. To kill him is to gain life- credit. The more people you kill, the more credit you store up." Jack asks if he can switch from a dier to a killer, and Murray says yes.
Murray is also fascinated by death; talking to Jack is like talking to someone who has died and then been brought back. Murray wants to know all he can about death in order to prevent. Even more extreme is his argument that if he kills someone, then he is not a dier. This idea is ludicrous, but logic is flawed when it comes to coping with death. The basis of this argument is statistics: if "x" people die per day or at a given age, the more people who die prematurely reduces the chance that the killer will die. The flaw of course, is that statistics are static, but Jack makes this same error when he reads the obituaries.
White Noise by Don Delillo-Free Chapter Summary Notes/Synopsis