Study Guide

White Noise Chapter 37

By Don DeLillo

Chapter 37

  • On their next walk together, Jack notices that Murray has started smoking a pipe.
  • He tells Murray about the fact the he's going to die because of the Nyodene D. exposure. This prompts Murray to give him a long lecture about death.
  • Murray says it's not going to do Jack any good to pity himself, no matter how badly he wants to live. He also says that there's no use in Jack comforting himself with the thought that death is what makes life so meaningful. According to Murray, this is absolutely ridiculous. Things would totally be better if people lived forever. That's why all the major religions think that some sort of soul lives beyond death.
  • Jack admits to Murray that he's always been afraid of death. This is why Jack has dedicated his entire life to studying Hitler. It's because Hitler stands out from history as someone who is almost bigger than death itself. Jack thought that by dedicating his life to studying Hitler, he could somehow cheat death.
  • Murray says that everyone is afraid of death.
  • Jack asks why normal people don't fear death as much as he does. Murray says everyone fears death just as much. The only difference is that Jack has never properly learned how to repress things like a normal person.
  • The two of them stroll through the supermarket. Murray waves at the brightly colored products and tells Jack that consumerism is all just a big distraction from death. It's all designed to keep people's minds occupied with something other than death.
  • Finally, Murray tosses out the idea that killing another person is the only way people can truly hold some sort of power over death. This makes Jack think about killing the man who slept with Babette.
  • Before they part ways, Murray decides to drop one last truth bomb on Jack. He tells Jack that he's glad it's him who's dying. Murray might be a good friend, but he's also honest about the fact that he'd rather have Jack die than himself. Jack thanks him for his honesty.

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