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In the second part, "The Airborne Toxic Event", a chemical spill from a rail car releases a black noxious cloud over Jack's home region, prompting an evacuation.Frightened by his exposure to the toxin, Gladney is forced to confront his mortality.Jack Gladney is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. Heinrich Gerhardt is the fourteen-year-old son of Jack and Janet Savory.
The first part of White Noise, called "Waves and Radiation", is a chronicle of contemporary family life combined with academic satire.
There is little plot development in this first section, which mainly serves as an introduction to the characters and themes which dominate the rest of the book.
Jack puts the gun in Willie's hand to make the murder look like a suicide, but Willie then shoots Jack in the arm.
Suddenly realizing the needless loss of life, Jack carries Willie to a hospital run by German nuns who do not believe in God or an afterlife.
Gray" in order to gain access to a fictional drug called Dylar, an experimental treatment for the terror of death.
The novel becomes a meditation on modern society's fear of death and its obsession with chemical cures as Gladney seeks to obtain his own black-market supply of Dylar.
Winnie Richards is a scientist at the college where Jack works, to whom Jack goes for information about Dylar.
Janet Savory is Jack's second wife and the mother of Heinrich.
Denise is the eleven-year-old daughter of Babette and Bob Pardee.
She suspects her mother is a drug addict and steals the bottle of Dylar to hide it.