White Noise Part 3, Chapters 29 Summary

Don DeLillo

Part 3, Chapters 29 Summary

Babette and Gladney are shopping at the supermarket. They see a family shopping in sign language and Gladney keeps seeing brightly colored lights. The couple now routinely asks one another how each of them are doing. Gladney says he feels good and his doctor has confirmed that nothing is wrong with him. When he wants to go to another aisle for an item, Babette will not let him go without her; she does not want to be left alone, and he should know that.

Gladney is certain the two of them will make it through this crisis and perhaps be even stronger than ever. They are each “determined to be well.” Babette is a positive, affirming person who gets things accomplished; nevertheless, they walk each aisle together. She buys three tabloid magazines for her next reading session with Old Man Treadwell as they wait in line together; then they walk together to the car, load the groceries together, and sit very close to one another on the drive home.

Gladney tells Babette that his doctor says he is in good health except for his eyes. Doctor Chakravarty thinks Gladney should see an eye doctor about the colored spots he keeps seeing; Babette thinks he should stop wearing his dark glasses. Gladney tries to explain that he cannot teach his Hitler classes without him; he has built his program and his persona with the glasses, and he cannot risk tampering with this formula for success.

Gladney continues to attend his German lessons and practices phrases he can use to welcome delegates to the upcoming Hitler conference in several weeks. Howard Dunlop has been piling his furniture, debris, and belongings against the windows; now the windows are completely blocked. Gladney suspects he might be the only person Dunlop ever sees and wonders if Dunlop needs him more than he needs Dunlop. It is a “disconcerting and terrible thought.”

On a table near the door, Gladney sees a heavy, ominous-looking book with a German title. When he asks about it, Dunlop eerily whispers that it is The Egyptian Book of the Dead, a best-seller in Germany.

At home, Gladney is on a rampage to throw things away. He cleans out his closet and sorts boxes of things in the basement and the attic, throwing away correspondence, books, clothing, student papers, broken things, and things without lids. That night a television reporter shows film of officials carrying a dead body out of a house; as many as thirty bodies are expected to be found in the yard. The reporter gleefully announces that he will continue his report when the digging reveals more bodies.

Three nights later, Gladney goes to Heinrich’s room where the television is temporarily located. The same reporter is making a live report from the same yard; though the digging has been precise and methodical, no more bodies have been discovered. The scene creates a feeling of dejection and failure. Gladney tries not to feel the disappointment.