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White Noise

Don DeLillo

Chapters 39–40

Chapters 36–38

Chapters 39–40, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary: Chapter 39

Jack finds the Roadway Motel, where Willie Mink is staying. He plans to find Willie Mink, shoot him three times in the abdomen, fake a suicide note, steal some Dylar, and then drive back to Blacksmith. As he drives around the motel three times, Jack becomes hypersensitive to the world around him. He sees the entire world anew, paying attention to the particular details around him.

Jack enters Willie Mink’s room, where he finds a shoddily dressed man staring vacantly into the television, half out of his mind, popping Dylar into his mouth. Willie Mink seems unsurprised by Jack’s arrival, apparently because others have come to him in search of the drug as well. Willie has not only lost his mind, he has also become unable to differentiate between words and the things they represent. To torment him, Jack yells “falling plane” so he can watch Mink curl into a fetal position as if he were, in fact, in a falling plane. Willie Mink refers to Babette as the woman in a ski mask who wouldn’t kiss him.

After hearing that, Jack is ready to kill him. He takes out his gun; whispers, “hail of bullets”; and then shoots Willie Mink once in the midsection. An arc of blood flies through the air, mesmerizing Jack with the intensity of its color. He shoots Mink again, steps back from the scene, wipes the gun clean of his prints, and places the gun in Mink’s hand. Just before Mink passes out, however, he manages to fire the gun’s last bullet into Jack’s wrist.

Startled back into the real world by the searing pain, Jack suddenly sees Mink as human, and a desperate, noble urge to save Mink comes over him. He drags Mink out of the motel room to the car and performs CPR on him. When Mink comes to and doesn’t remember the events in the hotel room, Jack lies and tells him that Mink shot both of them. Jack drives to a nearby hospital run by German nuns. When Mink is taken away, Jack talks to the nun treating his wound and asks her about heaven. Sarcastically, she tells Jack that she believes in no such thing and that her real duty lies in pretending to have faith for the sake of all the people who have none of their own. The nun says something in German that Jack cannot understand, but he finds the words beautiful nonetheless. Jack learns from the doctor that Willie Mink will eventually be okay, and with that knowledge he returns home to watch the children sleep.

Summary: Chapter 40

Wilder, after riding his tricycle around the block, rides past the dead-end street and carries his bike to the edge of the highway. He pedals across both lanes of traffic, stopping only briefly to carry his bike over the grassy medium as cars hurtle by, startled and confused.

Jack, Babette, and Wilder go to the overpass more than ever to watch the sunsets, which continue to amaze and frighten. Jack notes that most people don’t know what to feel when faced with these beautiful sunsets. The men in Mylex remain in Blacksmith, collecting their data. Jack refuses to talk to Dr. Chakravarty anymore or to take calls of any kind. The supermarket rearranges the items on its shelves, throwing the elderly into a state of panic and confusion.

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