DON DELILLO’S SATIRE OF CONSUMER CULTURE 165

| November 20, 2015
Essay #3 Assignment Sheet- Don DeLillo, White Noise

There are four options for this essay. Please read through them, and then select the ONE prompt you wish to use for your writing. The “Logistics” section at the end applies to all three options.
Option #1:
A literary motif is a theme or symbol that appears numerous times throughout a work. White Noise has a number of motifs. For this essay, please choose one of the following motifs and track it throughout the book:
? Supermarkets
? Natural and manmade disasters
? Plots and plotting and/or espionage
? German- the language, the people, Hitler
? “Noise”- background noise, electrical noise, data
? Fear of death
(If you wish to choose another motif, please contact me by email and run it by me before you begin working on the essay)
1. To start, you should identify the places in the text where this theme or symbol appears. These passages will be the “evidence” portion in your P.I.E. paragraphs.
2. Your thesis should answer the question: What is the significance of this motif and how does it relate to the overall purpose or meaning in the novel?
3. Remember, you do not only want to point out all the places these things appear in the novel. You need to have a larger argument about DeLillo’s intentions. Then, use the passages that you have selected to support your larger argument.
Option #2:
Don DeLillo’s book is a satire, which has as its object many aspects of American life. For this option, your job is to write a paper analyzing the satirical aspects in the novel, using the terminology from the handout and video for your last essay. Please focus on DeLillo’s satire of ONE of the following:
? American family life
? Consumer culture
? Academia
? Religion
(Again, if you have other ideas, please run them by me by email before starting on your essay).
Make sure that you have a clear thesis that makes a claim about the author’s intentions in satirizing. What does he wish to critique? What does he wish to change?
Option #3:
On pg. 233, during a discussion with his family in the car, Heinrich states, “Hot and cold are words. Think of them as words. We have to use words. We can’t just grunt.” In many ways, this is a novel about words and about language. If you choose Option #3, your essay will answer the question: What is DeLillo’s perspective on the usefulness of language? What function does he believe language serves?
Option #4:
There are several scenes throughout White Noise that seem to hold special significance. For Option #4, you will choose one short scene from the book, and talk about how it represents the meaning of the whole. Here are the scenes:
1. The “most photographed barn in America” on pp. 12-13
2. The ATM scene on pg. 46
3. The Treadwells lost at the mall on pp. 59-60
4. Wilder’s crying fit on pp. 75-79
5. Jack Gladney’s confrontation with Mr. Grey pp. 304-321
6. Wilder’s “escape” on pp. 322-324
Remember, like in the first option, you are not just writing about your chosen scene, but also making an argument about the whole book. Your thesis should address DeLillo’s purpose or meaning.
Logistics:
This is your final paper for the class, so it needs to meet departmental minimum requirements, or it will receive a grade of zero. No matter which option you choose, you must do the following:
1. Write an essay that is 6-8 pages in length.
2. You must have in-text parenthetical citations and a works cited page.
3. You must have at least three sources. White Noise will be one source and the other two sources (either literary criticism or contextual information), should come either from the material included in the critical edition of your book, from other books of criticism (there are several on DeLillo available from the library), or from the library databases (JSTOR, Proquest, Literature Criticism Online, etc.). Please DO NOT USE GENERAL ONLINE SOURCES SUCH AS SPARKNOTES OR WIKIPEDIA. If you have questions about a source, please contact me prior to submitting your essay.
Please format with MLA headings, page numbers and a title. Use Times New Roman, 12 pt. font.

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