White Noise


Don DeLillo

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Babette’s son, and the youngest of the children living with her and Jack. Wilder, who behaves like a good-natured toddler, can’t speak more than twenty-five words, a fact that both worries and pleases Jack. Both he and Babette delight in spending time with the effectively nonverbal child, finding his innocence and curiosity infectious and soothing. Murray is particularly interested in Wilder’s impressionable age and the fact that the boy is growing up awash in consumerism.

Wilder Quotes in White Noise

The White Noise quotes below are all either spoken by Wilder or refer to Wilder. 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 16 Quotes

We looked at each other. Behind that dopey countenance, a complex intelligence operated. […] The inconsolable crying went on. I let it wash over me, like rain in sheets. I entered it, in a sense. I let it fall and tumble across my face and chest. I began to think he had disappeared inside this wailing noise and if I could join him in his lost and suspended place we might together perform some reckless wonder of intelligibility. I let it break across my body. It might not be so terrible, I thought, to have to sit here for four more hours, with the motor running and the heater on, listening to this uniform lament.

Related Characters: Jack Gladney (speaker), Wilder
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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:
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White Noise PDF

Wilder Character Timeline in White Noise

The timeline below shows where the character Wilder appears in White Noise. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Plots and History Theme Icon
...procession of station wagons, they are joined by three of their children, Denise, Steffie, and Wilder, and the group sets about quietly preparing their own lunches. Denise, who polices Babette’s health,... (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 predictably latches onto Babette and sings... (full context)
Chapter 16
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
That day, Wilder starts crying at two in the afternoon and doesn’t stop for almost seven hours. He... (full context)
Chapter 20
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Murray comes over to talk to Steffie, Denise, and Wilder as part of his fascination with what he calls “the society of kids.” When Babette... (full context)
Chapter 33
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
Consumer Culture and Identity Theme Icon
While sleeping, Jack senses a presence. He opens his eyes to find Wilder standing inches from his face, staring at him. He gets out of bed and follows... (full context)
Chapter 35
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
...sweat suit at all hours of the day and spending large amounts of time with Wilder, which is the only activity that seems to alleviate her fear of death. Jack can’t... (full context)
Chapter 40
Fear, Death, and Control Theme Icon
Uncertainty and Authority Theme Icon
...same day, Jack and Babette learn from two old women who watched it unfold that Wilder took his tricycle beyond the Gladneys’ property, past a guard rail, along a walkway, and... (full context)