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White Noise Trash Analysis

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Many different people have a different general idea of what “privacy” means. What makes something private? Text 1a explores that question. It is an extract from “White Noise”, a novel written by Don DeLillo in 1984. It is narrated in the first-person. The speaker in this excerpt looks secretly through the garbage compactor and finds all kinds of trash while feeling as if he is violating another’s privacy. His audience seems to be consumerist America. His purpose is to unfold the secrets lying in people’s trash which he achieves through a guilt-ridden tone, visual imagery, and interrogative sentences.

To achieve his purpose, DeLillo writes with a guilt-ridden tone. While looking through the garbage, the narrator seems ashamed of what he is doing. He uses diction with negative connotation to describe what he is doing. The smell hit him in a “shocking” way and the trash looked like a sculpture, “mocking” him (11). He “jabbed” at it and felt like he was a “violator of privacy” (12 and 14). The diction used portrays the search of garbage as something unpleasant and something the narrator is not supposed to be doing. When he says he felt like a “violator of privacy”, the narrator feels guilty, as if he was invading another’s privacy. The diction contributes to the guilt-ridden tone since most of the adjectives he uses have a negative connotation.

Along with tone, DeLillo uses various examples of strong visual imagery. To unfold the secrets lying in people’s trash, the narrator describes in a vivid way what he finds in the garbage compactor. When he looks inside for the first time, he finds “a cube of mangled cans, clothes hangers, animal bones and other refuse” (5) and various other products whose colors were “undiminished in brightness and intensity” (6). The striking way that the narrator describes what he uncovers makes it seem more than just trash but more like a treasure or discovery. Afterwards, the narrator lifts out the bag and brings out the trash to examine it. At that point, he starts describing it as if it was something more complex than just trash. He first compares it to an “ironic modern sculpture” (11). Immediately, you imagine the trash to be complex in nature because that is what comes to mind when you think of a modern sculpture. He then “detected a complex relationship between the size of the loops, the kind of knots and the intervals between knots with



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