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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

Lin Enger: IMG Knowing vs. Knowing

On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The High Divide

    Lin Enger 9781616203757


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Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions

cole h, March 29, 2012

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut centers on the intriguing characters Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout. Trout is a writer, whose science fiction novels cause Hoover to go insane. Trout’s works highlight cultural arguments that parallel the novel itself. Vonnegut explores the state of society through the events that lead up to the meeting of Hoover and Trout. Overall, the author’s creative application of point of view, diction, and characters adequately portrays the societal flaws revealed within the novel.
Vonnegut implements a variety of methods to develop his argument. First, Vonnegut applies the point of view of the novel in order to further the themes concerning societal flaws. Utilizing a third-person narrative, Vonnegut provides an all-knowing perspective on our culture. “I was on par with the Creator of the Universe there in the dark in the cocktail lounge” (205). The previous passage displays the narrator’s fascinating perspective equivalent to that of a god. The perspective forces the reader to examine Vonnegut’s statements. The narrator shapes the plot of the novel himself, creating a clear parallel to Kurt Vonnegut. The author also employs clever word choice throughout Breakfast of Champions to point out the flaws of our modern society.
Vonnegut’s implementation of simple and blunt dialogue aids in revealing his societal statements to the reader. When outlining the hypocrisy of American politics, Vonnegut states, “It didn’t think that Earthlings who had a lot should share it with others unless they really wanted to, and most of them didn’t want to. So they didn’t” (13). The author bluntly describes the American stance on communism and sharing the wealth in the previous text. By using such word choice, Vonnegut clearly displays his ideas concerning the flaws of government. Along with word choice, the author also applies his characters in order to advance his theories on modern culture.
Vonnegut utilizes his characters to exemplify societal troubles. He places characters such as Hoover and Trout into certain situations in order to expose cultural issues such as racism. When Dwayne is asked to start a KFC restaurant, he replies, “’So you want me to open a Nigger joint’” (164)? Vonnegut formulates a theme of racism through many of the white characters within the novel. The previous passage illustrates the author’s clearly negative outlook on racism through Dwayne’s use of derogatory terms. Vonnegut also employs his characters to portray arguments on pollution and sex. For example, Patty Keene, a waitress, is “raped by a white gas-conversion unit installer” (143), again showing Vonnegut’s utilization of characters and plot to highlight the worst aspects of our society.
In total, Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions effectively displays perceptions concerning societal flaws such as racism, government, and pollution in an entertaining manner. Vonnegut furthers his ideas through the creative and direct application of point of view, word choice, and characters. Breakfast of Champions is a fantastic novel and an enjoyable read that will provoke awareness on many cultural issues.
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