The Universality of the Fear of Death

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For those of you who have not read White Noise then I first urge you to read this article beforehand to see whether you would want to be obsessing over the inquiries of death like I am now or if you would rather think about less dreadful areas of life and therefore, please, do not read the book. I have always had a fascination with death and the afterlife and it is absolutely amazing that it is the one th ing humankind wil never be certain about. I, then, identified immediately with the main character of the novel Jack Gladney.

Jack is a Hitler scholar at a small University. His obession with death comes out of his wife’s obession with it. This can all be called back to the time of her mother’s passing and does not know how to deal with it. This is getting ahead of the point. There is an airborne toxin in the shape of a black cloud over his town and Jack ends up being contaminated. The doctors tell him he has the infection and that someday, althought not soon, it will be the cause of his death. This terrifies him and he goes on throughout the novel questioning death and all it’s functions.

The fear of death is in Jack Gladney’s head because he has already learned what will be his death. Jack cannot escape his fate, much like cancer patients or AIDs victims in modern times. The question of when we will die is frightening enough and it’s universality should bring us towards a society that is love filled and unjealous.

We all have a fear of death presumably because we do not know what the afterlife is. We don’t know if we will be judged by god or end up in the ground or on top of a loved one’s mantel. The uncertainty of death is considerably more alarming than the notion of how we will die. Of course, this does not apply to people who are in extreme measures of pain and death is such a release that being relieved is better than the unknown.

The case is this then. In the novel, while Jack is questioning life and death, he becomes a much better father, son-in-law, husband, friend, and lover. He loves his wife and kids more and his friendships more and has a greater appreciation for them and for what they have done. Death is inevitable, right? Or has someone found a way out? Didn’t think so. We know it will happen and although the timing and the way we will go is not always available and thank God it isn’t, then why can’t we take Jack’s lesson of giving more love and more appreciation to everything that is around us just to make our time here that much better. It is a case of love over uncertainty. A life filled with love will, in the end, prepare our minds for the great beyond.


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