White Noise

Jack’s fourth and current wife. Like Jack, Babette has been married multiple times and has retained custody of two children, Denise and Wilder. She is intelligent while projecting a pragmatic and wholesome sensibility. In addition to attending to the young Wilder, of whom she is protective, she reads to the blind (in particular, an old man named Mr. Treadwell) and teaches a twice-weekly class about correct posture to adults in the basement of a church. Beneath her confident, good-natured personality, though, she is desperately afraid of dying. This fear leads her to participate in an experimental trial of Dylar, a medication that supposedly eliminates one’s fear of death, and to engage in an affair to keep on getting Dylar from Willie Mink, the head researcher of the drug. Contrary to the seemingly honest nature of their marriage, Babette conceals all this from Jack until he finally finds a bottle of the pills and confronts her.

Babette Quotes in White Noise

The White Noise quotes below are all either spoken by Babette or refer to Babette. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of White Noise published in 2009.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Babette and I do our talking in the kitchen. The kitchen and the bedroom are the major chambers around here, the power haunts, the sources. She and I are alike in this, that we regard the rest of the house as storage space for furniture, toys, all the unused objects of earlier marriages and different sets of children, the gifts of lost in-laws, the hand-me-downs and rummages. Things, boxes. Why do these possessions carry such sorrowful weight? There is a darkness attached to them, a foreboding. They make me wary not of personal failure and defeat but of something more general, something large in scope and content.

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Babette
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Who will die first?

This question comes up from time to time, like where are the car keys. It ends a sentence, prolongs a glance between us. I wonder if the thought itself is part of the nature of physical love, a reverse Darwinism that awards sadness and fear to the survivor. Or is it some inert element in the air we breathe, a rare thing like neon, with a melting point, an atomic weight?

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Babette
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

Most of her students are old. It isn’t clear to me why they want to improve their posture. We seem to believe it is possible to ward off death by following rules of good grooming. Sometimes I go with my wife to the church basement and watch her stand, turn, assume various heroic poses, gesture gracefully. She makes references to yoga, kendo, trance-walking. She talks of Sufi dervishes, Sherpa mountaineers. The old folks nod and listen. Nothing is foreign, nothing too remote to apply. I am always surprised at their acceptance and trust, the sweetness of their belief. Nothing is too doubtful to be of use to them as they seek to redeem their bodies from a lifetime of bad posture. It is the end of skepticism.

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Babette
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Love helps us develop an identity secure enough to allow itself to be placed in another’s care and protection. Babette and I have turned our lives for each other’s thoughtful regard, turned them in the moonlight in our pale hands, spoken deep into the night about fathers and mothers, childhood, friendships, awakenings, old loves, old fears (except fear of death). No detail must be left out, not even a dog with ticks or a neighbor’s boy who ate an insect on a dare.

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Babette
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

Everything is concealed in symbolism, hidden by veils of mystery and layers of cultural material. But it is psychic data, absolutely. The large doors slide open, they close unbidden. Energy waves, incident radiation. All the letters and numbers are here, all the colors of the spectrum, all the voices and sounds, all the code words and ceremonial phrases. It is just a question of deciphering, rearranging, peeling off the layers of unspeakability. Not that we would want to, not that any useful purpose would be served.

Related Characters: Murray Jay Siskin (speaker), Jack Gladney, Babette
Related Symbols: The Supermarket
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

[…] I’ve been sitting in this room for more than two months, watching TV into the early hours, listening carefully, taking notes. A great and humbling experience, let me tell you. Close to mystical. […] I’ve come to understand that the medium is a primal force in the American home. Sealed-off, timeless, self-contained, self-referring. It’s like a myth being born right there in our living room, like something we know in a dreamlike and preconscious way.

Related Characters: Murray Jay Siskin (speaker), Jack Gladney, Babette
Related Symbols: Television
Page Number: 50-1
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

All this time she’d been turned away from me. There were plot potentials in this situation, chances for people to make devious maneuvers, secret plans.

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Babette, Denise
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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[…] it’s not a question of greatness. It’s not a question of good and evil. I don’t know what it is. Look at it this way. Some people always wear a favorite color. Some people carry a gun. Some people put on a uniform and feel bigger, stronger, safer. It’s in this area that my obsessions dwell.

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Babette, Denise
Related Symbols: Hitler
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 16 Quotes

We were halfway home when the crying stopped. It stopped suddenly, without a change in tone and intensity. Babette said nothing, I kept my eyes on the road. He sat between us, looking into the radio. I waited for Babette to glance at me behind his back, over his head, to show relief, happiness, hopeful suspense. I didn’t know how I felt and wanted a clue. But she looked straight ahead as if fearful that any change in the sensitive texture of sound, movement, expression would cause the crying to break out again.

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Babette, Wilder
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Babette Character Timeline in White Noise

The timeline below shows where the character Babette appears in White Noise. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...in a suburban house at the end of a quiet street with his fourth wife, Babette, and four children, all of whom come from different marriages. In describing the street he... (full context)
Chapter 2
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Arriving home after watching the students arrive on campus, Jack tells Babette that she has once again missed the fantastic spectacle. She tells him that she needs... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Plots and History Theme Icon
Jack and Babette’s home is cozily cluttered with toys and “the unused objects of earlier marriages and different... (full context)
Chapter 3
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Jack describes how he and Babette often talk about which one of them will die first. He explains that they both... (full context)
Chapter 4
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
...week, the family sits down for dinner in front of the TV—their Friday night ritual. Babette believes that doing this will minimize the children’s desire to consume TV, effectively “de-glamoriz[ing]” the... (full context)
Chapter 5
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
...about the fact that he will someday die. One day after this happens, he and Babette run into Murray at the supermarket. Murray shows a clear attraction to Babette and holds... (full context)
Chapter 7
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
One night, after Babette has finished teaching a class on correct posture in a nearby Congregational church, she and... (full context)
Chapter 9
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Jack and Babette go with Denise, Steffie, and Wilder to the supermarket. Again, they bump into Murray, who... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
When Jack and Steffie rejoin Babette and Murray, Murray is excitedly extolling the symbolic virtue of the products surrounding them in... (full context)
Chapter 10
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Watching her mother open a new pack of gum, Denise informs Babette that what she is about to consume is proven to cause cancer in lab animals.... (full context)
Chapter 11
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Jack and Babette go to Murray’s boarding room for dinner. Murray tells them that he’s interested in studying... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
On the walk back from having dinner at Murray’s, Babette asks Jack if her memory is truly as bad as Denise makes it sound. He... (full context)
Chapter 12
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Plots and History Theme Icon
Returning from his German lessons, Jack finds Babette’s ex-husband, Bob Pardee, in the kitchen. Bob, who is Denise’s biological father, wants to take... (full context)
Chapter 13
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Plots and History Theme Icon
Babette calls Jack at his office to tell him that Heinrich was down at the river... (full context)
Chapter 16
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...in the afternoon and doesn’t stop for almost seven hours. He sobs so intensely that Babette, at Jack’s suggestion, takes him to the doctor, who tells her to give the child... (full context)
Chapter 20
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Although Jack and Babette constantly volley back and forth in their argument about who should be the one to... (full context)
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...Wilder as part of his fascination with what he calls “the society of kids.” When Babette appears on the TV, everybody in the room is taken aback. They try to turn... (full context)
Chapter 21
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...Nyodene D. release and argues about the correct terms for the cloud of toxic chemicals. Babette hears from a neighbor that the tank car spilled 35,000 gallons. She also tells Jack... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...that the cloud won’t reach them, though again, he provides no basis for thinking this. Babette gets off the phone with their neighbors and says that experts are no longer calling... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...in case the airborne toxic event gets worse and they need to leave. Jack and Babette refuse to confirm this logic, and the family goes on eating while a chorus of... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Out of the corner of his eye, Jack sees Babette put something in her mouth. When he asks her what it is, she tells him... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Jack returns to the section of cots his family has claimed. Speaking softly to Babette, he quizzes her about the thing she swallowed in the car, asking her to quickly... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Plots and History Theme Icon
When Jack returns to the cots, he sees that Babette is reading to Old Man Treadwell and a group of other blind people. Wanting a... (full context)
Chapter 22
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Jack decides to not tell Babette about what he learned from the SIMUVAC technician about his Nyodene D. exposure. He believes... (full context)
Chapter 24
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 26
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Plots and History Theme Icon
In bed that night, Jack confronts Babette once more, this time refusing to be sidetracked. She reluctantly tells him that about a... (full context)
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Continuing with her story, Babette tells Jack that she went searching for a way to understand her problem, visiting libraries,... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Dylar, Babette tells Jack, has many related dangers and side effects. Mr. Gray told her that she... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Babette carries on with her explanation, informing Jack that she went to Mr. Gray’s seedy motel... (full context)
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Dylar was designed, Babette explains, to eliminate the human fear of death. She tells Jack that she learned from... (full context)
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Jack takes this opportunity to tell Babette about his exposure to Nyodene D. and the possible harmful effects it had on him.... (full context)
Chapter 27
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
In the kitchen, Jack and Babette treat one another gently, asking one another how they’re feeling. This has been their custom... (full context)
Chapter 28
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Life continues for the Gladneys as normal, though Jack’s misgivings about Babette’s deception continue to affect him. Still, they continue asking each other how they feel, a... (full context)
Chapter 29 
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
In the grocery store, Babette suggests to Jack that he should schedule a checkup with his doctor. He tells her... (full context)
Chapter 30
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
In the middle of the night, Jack wakes Babette up and tells her that she must tell him about Mr. Gray. She refuses yet... (full context)
Chapter 31
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Time passes. Jack and Babette continue to check in with one another. The family indulges an epic fried chicken binge,... (full context)
Chapter 33
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
...Jack discovers that the figure sitting in his backyard is not death, but Vernon Dickey, Babette’s wayward father. The two men greet one another and go inside, where they drink coffee... (full context)
Chapter 35
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
The days go by. Babette begins wearing her sweat suit at all hours of the day and spending large amounts... (full context)
Chapter 37
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Plots and History Theme Icon
...then forces Jack to answer with whether he’s a killer or dier, whether he believes—as Babette does—that there is a homicidal element to his identity, something lurking in the depths of... (full context)
Chapter 39
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
...Jack asks about the nature of fearing death and Mink admits to his agreement with Babette), Jack says the words “plunging aircraft,” remembering that one side effect of Dylar is that... (full context)
Chapter 40
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
That same day, Jack and Babette learn from two old women who watched it unfold that Wilder took his tricycle beyond... (full context)