Study Guide

White Noise Technology & Modernization

By Don DeLillo

Technology & Modernization

The technology and modernization that White Noise is preoccupied with is media. Specifically, it's the media of 1985: the TV and radio. These media are shown to be a force for change in the relationships between parents and children, and between humans and their surrounding world. Media is seen as a constant input, an omnipresent force, a chattering that can't be suppressed. The white noise in White Noise is both the media, humming along at all times, and the thing needed to drown out the constant media presence.

Just imagine how Don DeLillo feels about smartphones.

Questions About Technology & Modernization

  1. In your opinion, does DeLillo exaggerate the power of modern technology to warp our sense of reality? When you walk down the street, does the world feel perfectly real to you, or is there something to DeLillo's idea that technology has made us incapable of seeing things without thinking of what TV or the internet has taught us?
  2. Is technology a good thing or a bad thing in this book? Do you ever get the sense that it's an evil presence in the modern world, or a good thing? Does DeLillo not really know how to feel about it? Support your answer with examples from the text.
  3. According to this book, how has technology changed human relationships in the modern world? How do people communicate with each other differently? What's Murray Siskind's approach to all the "white noise" that modern technology keeps thrusting into the background of our daily lives?

Chew on This

In White Noise, DeLillo mourns the death of a traditional, pre-technology America, where men were just men and barns were just barns.

In White Noise, DeLillo celebrates technology because it allows us to make the world into whatever we want it to be.

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