White Noise


Don DeLillo

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White Noise: Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Jack goes to another checkup, and this time Dr. Chakravarty tells him that his potassium levels are quite high, but fails to explain what this might mean. Jack asks him if it could perhaps be due to the fact that he was exposed to harmful chemicals. Chakravarty only replies by asking if this is actually the case. Jack lies immediately, saying he has no reason to think he’s experienced this kind of exposure. Still, Chakravarty decides to send his results to a new facility called Autumn Harvest Farms with “gleaming new equipment.” When Jack agrees, he also asks if his potassium levels are the only reason he needs to seek further tests. “The less you know, the better,” Chakravarty says, instructing Jack to go to Autumn Harvest Farms to have a battery of extensive tests done and to tell them to put the results in a sealed envelope, which Jack will then transport back to Chakravarty.
Jack’s desire to control his own conception of his health is apparent in the lies he tells Dr. Chakravarty. The nature of certainty emerges as tenuous in this moment, when Jack demonstrates that he only wants to be fully informed when the knowledge he’s receiving is positive in nature. If he senses that he’s about to receive bad news, suddenly uncertainty—for once—seems more appealing, and he lies in order to ensure he remains in a state of ignorance.
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