Jack Gladney

Jack Gladney

    White Noise

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living… in Blackstone, a quaint college town in the Midwest. Jack, his current wife, Babette, and their six children from previous marriages lead an average, middle-class life “at the end of a quiet street in what was once a wooded area with deep ravines.”

Profession… professor of Hitler Studies at The-College-on-the-Hill. As the man who created the field, Jack is "the most prominent figure in Hitler studies in North America," and it's a position he's proud of.

Interests… television, trying to reconnect with his children, and contemplating his death. Babette and Jack have a long-standing argument about who will die first: she contends that his death will leave her helpless, while he counters that her death will leave a gaping hole in his life. For now, their worries about mortality have a refreshing counterargument in Wilder, Babette's young and decidedly alive son.

Relationship Status… divorced four times, but currently happy in his marriage to Babette. Jack sees "complete disclosure" as "a form of self-renewal and a gesture of custodial trust," so he makes sure to tell Babette everything about his life – the good, the bad, and the deeply troubling.

Challenge… learning German while his life is in turmoil. To his great embarrassment, Jack – the very founder of Hitler studies – speaks less German than the students who look up to him, all of whom have to take at least a year of German to be a Hitler studies major. Jack is currently seeing a private tutor to learn the language, but he’s been distracted lately. A recent toxic air spill, Babette's sudden distantness, and odd pills appearing his house have brought Jack's fears of his mortality back to the forefront.  

Personality… quiet, intelligent, and seemingly detached from the world. For the founder of Hitler studies, Jack lacks his subject's grandiosity. Bespectacled and mild-mannered, he often has to be prodded into making a good impression. But while he might not be much to look at, Jack's love for his family is clear, and his clear sense of his own mortality is all too relatable.


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