Study Guide

White Noise Chapter 20

By Don DeLillo

Chapter 20

  • Continuing with the theme of death, Jack opens chapter 20 by talking about the obituaries of people in the town of Blacksmith. He says that when he sees obituaries, he always compares the age of the deceased person to his own.
  • At breakfast, Babette tells him that she's been having terrible dreams. This sparks another one of Jack's meditations on who will die first: Babette or him. They both tell each other that they want to die first. But they might be lying.
  • Murray comes over for a visit, and spends most of his time hanging out with the children and studying them. Heinrich comes into the kitchen and argues with Jack about whether it's a good thing for a person to drink coffee.
  • After this conversation, Jack admits to the reader that there's no way he wants to die before Babette. He doesn't want to live without her, but his desire to keep living is even stronger.
  • Later, when the family is sitting around, they see Babette's face on TV. For a second, they all think she's dead. But then they realize that the local cable station is broadcasting one of her classes from over at the Congregational church. Everyone in the family feels weird seeing her on TV. The only one who remains calm is the baby Wilder. Murray sits in the corner and takes notes. 

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