Murray Siskind: Wise Man Or Raving Mad? Essay

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Is Murray Siskind a raving lunatic or a wise, but somewhat eccentric man? Does he ever have a point, or is he just mindlessly rambling? He’s neither of those things. The first impression he gives is of someone who’s in between, but that proves not to be the case. He’s actually a very cunning man, one who has become the “devil” voice of Jack Gladney’s conscience.
Eventually he’d like to become Jack. He covets not only his position and standing in the university, but also his wife, Babette, and he makes no secret of it. Why else would he do something to lewd as to sniff her hair and grope her the way he does? He tells Jack that the only way to seduce a woman is with clear and open desire. Well, it don’t get no clearer than that.

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They see an image of what they think the barn should be but they can’t see the plain old barn. The barn could be compared with a human celebrity - they are never seen for their real selves, rather they’re seen for what the public wants to see. It makes sense.
Murray thinks very highly of kids. Small kids, to be exact. He tells his college students they’re “less targetable by advertisers and mass producers of culture. Kids are a true universal” (DeLillo 50). That’s certainly true today -- just turn on the radio for proof. The Backstreet Boys and N Sync definitely aren’t aiming themselves at the 18 to 49 demographic, are they? “This is the society of kids” (DeLillo 49), he tells us. Kids have innocence! According to Murray, the reason Jack feels so comfortable with stepson Wilder is because Wilder is free from limits. He has no concept of life and death. He isn’t terrified of dying, as he proved when he peddled out across a busy expressway. “He doesn’t know he’s going to die. He doesn’t know death at all. You cherish this simpleton blessing of his, this exemption from harm. You want to get close to him, touch him, look at him, breathe him in. How lucky he is. A cloud of unknowing, an omnipotent little person. The child is everything, the adult nothing … A person’s entire life is the unraveling of this conflict” (DeLillo 289-290).
Jack Gladney’s fear of death really intensifies after he’s told

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