Study Guide

White Noise Chapter 36

By Don DeLillo

Chapter 36

  • Jack admits that more and more, his thoughts are wandering to the handgun that his father-in-law has given him.
  • Jack's ex-wife Janet calls him from an ashram (she goes by the name Mother Devi now) and asks if Heinrich will come see her in the summer. He says he'll check with Heinrich. Before hanging up, Janet rubs his nose in the fact that she has found spiritual peace. This only reminds him about his own restlessness and his discomfort with the idea of dying.
  • The next day, Jack participants in the Hitler conference start arriving in Blacksmith. Jack stumbles over his grammar, but makes it through his opening remarks for the conference in German. Now he just has to avoid the German-speaking academics for the next few days.
  • Whenever he thinks about the gun he has back at home, a pleasing sensation courses through him. When the conference is over, he rushes out to the airport to pick up Steffie, who has come home wearing Mexican clothing.
  • Later, Jack drives out to a place called Glassboro to take some more tests that his doctor recommended. He submits samples of just about every substance his body can produce.
  • The doctors and technicians take the samples away and ask Jack to sit and wait. They send him down all sorts of narrow hallways to be tested by different machines.
  • The next time he sits down with a doctor, the doctor tells him that all of his results have already come back. He asks Jack a series of questions and checks them against the readings on the printout. Then he seals the printout in an envelope and asks Jack to take it to his family doctor.
  • When Jack leaves, he's overcome by the realization that his whole future is contained in an envelope that he's not allowed to open. Even if he did open it, only his doctor would understand the codes on the printout. So much for feeling like he's in control of his life, even with that gun in his pocket.

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