Study Guide

White Noise What's Up With the Title?

By Don DeLillo

What's Up With the Title?

As it turns out, White Noise wasn't Don DeLillo's first choice for the title of this book. His actual first choice was Panasonic, since he wanted the "pan" part of the word (which means "all") to describe how the "noise" of the modern world is everywhere. The only problem was that Panasonic was also a trademarked name owned by one of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world. Turns out they weren't cool with having their name used to title a book that takes some pretty hard shots at consumer culture.

Luckily, White Noise sums up DeLillo's meaning just fine. It refers to a) the constant input of media and the other things that distract us from the reality of life and b) to the ever-present fear that whispers to Jack and Babette "You're gonna die. You're gonna die."

Whew. Spooky. We don't know if, having read White Noise, we'll be able to think about white noise machines in the same way ever again. Comforting pre-recorded sounds of rainforest birds… or the Grim Reaper quietly laughing at you all night long?Ugh.

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