White Noise


Don DeLillo

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White Noise: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

The next night, as he’s trying to fix the radiator, Jack finds a bottle of a medication called Dylar taped to the underside of its lid. He asks Denise what she knows about it, and she tells him that she has already gone to the pharmacy to ask about it, but none of the pharmacists have ever heard of the drug. Out of options, they decide to call Babette’s doctor, wanting to catch him at home in order to trick him into telling them about Dylar. Jack tells Dr. Hookstratten that Babette is experiencing memory lapses and that it must be the medication he prescribed her, but Hookstratten says he’s never heard of Dylar. When he hangs up, Jack goes to Denise’s room and tells her not to worry, that he will take one of the pills to be analyzed by somebody at the College-on-the-Hill
Jack’s plan to trick Hookstratten is characteristic of his strange relationship with doctors. Simultaneously dependent on and suspicious of them, he approaches conversations with doctors like a game that can be either won or lost. To be sure, he seems to think of doctor-patient relationships in terms of a struggle for power, a context in which whoever holds the most knowledge or authority ultimately comes out on top.
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Walking down the hall, Jack sees Heinrich hanging from a chin-up bar. Heinrich tells him that the bar belongs to his friend, Orest Mercator, who is an older boy training to set the world record for the longest amount of time spent in a cage with deadly snakes. Jack, of course, has a hard time understanding this goal. When he returns to his own bedroom, Babette is standing in front of the window and staring out of it—she seems not to have noticed his absence in bed, and also seems not to notice him as he slips back beneath the covers.
Jack doesn’t understand Orest’s desire to sit in a cage full of deadly snakes because it is greatly antithetical to everything he believes in. A man who woefully believes he’s dying, Jack simply cannot comprehend why somebody would willingly risk his or her life.
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