Inquiry #1

Exploring the Power Haunts of White Noise

This inquiry of White Noise is an exercise in close reading, in which you craft an interpretative reading of a passage based on individual details, striking patterns, and a sense of how the passage connects with larger issues in the novel.

Jack Gladney calls the kitchen and bedroom “the major chambers around here, the power haunts, the sources” (6). Whether or not Jack realizes it, there are other “power haunts” in White Noise, familiar places DeLillo imbues with a kind of mystical radiance: the car, the supermarket, the mall, the college campus, the expressway, the airport, and so on.

For this inquiry, select one of these power haunts (or any of the other meaningful places you find in the novel). Focusing on the one or two passages that best illustrate the characteristics of this place, examine how the place becomes a “source” for Gladney. Be aware of even the smallest detail — a single verb, a specific noun, a snatch of dialogue. Also pay attention to how DeLillo evokes the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, even taste. Sorting through these details, explain how this place become a “source” for Gladney. What is it a “source” of? Finally, how does the place relate to the broader themes of the novel?

You have only three or four double-spaced pages for this inquiry. So you must be precise and concise. There is no need for an introduction or any kind of grand opening gesture. Waste no space. Get straight to the point. Use your evidence and make a case.

The inquiry is due in class on Thursday, September 4th.