Introduction- Obsession with death is the major theme of the novel.
Religious belief has historically given hope.
American consumerism has replaced traditional religion.
The meaning of ôthingsö in postmodern life.
Things are a pale substitute for life and hope.
Things have become objects of worship.
Only the innocence of children can bring a sense of the religious.
Industrial accident forces people to deal with reality.
Protagonist/Narrator Jack Gladney seeks spiritual solace and meaning.
The only meaning of postmodern life is to be found in the church of the supermarket.
The main theme of Don DeLilloÆs novel White Noise is an obsession with death and how to avoid it. One means of coming to terms with death, and avoiding its finality through a belief in the afterlife, is religious belief. Religion through the ages has offered people hope. In DeLilloÆs novel, however, religious hope is hard to come by since American consumerism has replaced traditional religion; it is a religion that offers no consolation or salvation. This paper will interpret the role of religion in the 1984 novel, focusing on what DeLillo is saying about religion in the 20th/21st Century. The thesis of this paper is that, according to DeLillo, American consumerism has replaced religion.
The novel opens with the central character Jack Gladney arriving at the college where he is a professor for the new term. He sees the students also arriving with what seems to be an avalanche of things. ôThings, boxes. Why do these possessions carry such sorrowful weight? There is a darkness attached to them, a forebodingàö (6).
Gladney is aware that these ôthingsö are a pale substitute for life and the hope that once came from more traditional values, such as religion. The postmodernist world of the novel is one in which God and all spiritual hope have virtually disappeared