Study Guide

White Noise Youth

By Don DeLillo


In this book, Don DeLillo asks some pretty serious questions about the role of youth in modern American culture. First of all, the youths in White Noise seem to know more about the world than their parents do. Even the eleven-year-old Denise gives her mother advice about healthy eating, while fourteen-year-old Heinrich schools his dad about how the world really works. In these scenes, the parents of this book start to resemble whiny children, while the children are the ones in charge. A big reason why, says DeLillo, is because modern technologies have given children more access to information than their not-so-tech-savvy parents, which reverses the traditional relationships between kids and adults. 

Questions About Youth

  1. Do you agree that modern technology has chipped away at the authority that parents used to have over their children? Why or why not?
  2. What is the shortcoming of someone like Heinrich in this book? He always seems to know better than his dad, but what are his blind spots, if any?
  3. Does Babette ever come across as a convincing mother to her daughter Denise in this book? Why or why not?
  4. Why does the baby Wilder make Jack and Babette feel better about their lives? Use specific examples from the text to support your answer. 

Chew on This

In White Noise, Don DeLillo shows us that kids these days need some strict discipline…and that their parents aren't giving them any.

In White Noise, Don DeLillo's portrayals of Heinrich and Denise are completely unrealistic because there is no way children their age would say or think the things they do. 

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