Kurt Vonnegut Essay

2170 words - 9 pages

Kurt Vonnegut is an author of numerous novels and short stories, two plays and several works of non-fiction. His short stories and novels are based on the things that he has experienced in his life and portray survival stories. Vonnegut is a self-proclaimed humanist and socialist and his writing style is eclectic and is sometimes made up of random thoughts. Vonnegut once stated, "You understand, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." (Allen 1988: 76). We will explore some of his major works and how his life experiences have affected his writing style.Kurt Vonnegut has emerged as a consistent commentator on American war and culture through the second half of the twentieth century. In his novels, the social satire dominates and Vonnegut blends profanity, whimsical humor and something approaching despair as he exposes the feeble American culture and a world verging on destruction through human thoughtlessness. His stories range from satiric visions of future societies to portrayals of ordinary people. They often depict experiences and struggles that Vonnegut himself has experienced, often from his life during WWII as a German-American fighting against Hitler as an American soldier. His writings offend Christians, women and blacks without apology. Vonnegut's opinions are intentionally controversial: "Educating a beautiful woman is like pouring honey into a fine Swiss watch: everything stops." (Lundquist, 40).Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born on November 11, 1922 in Indianapolis, to fourth-generation German-American parents.Vonnegut attended Cornell University from 1941 to 943, where he wrote anti-war articles fro the student newspaper, "The Cornell Daily Sun".(Lundquist, p.43). After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the U.S. Army and served in World War II. In 1944, Vonnegut was sent to Europe and as a battalion scout in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was taken prisoner. After returning home from the war, he married his childhood sweetheart Jane Marie Cox. Throughout their marriage they had two daughters and a son, they also adopted the children of Vonnegut's sister after her death. Vonnegut's life was filled with tragedies that have shaped his style of writing. His mother, Edith Leiber, committed suicide on Mother's Day, 1944, when he was in his early twenties. His sister, Alice, died of cancer at the age of 41 and her husband died within hours in a train crash, leaving him to raise her children. (Marvin, p. 17). The tragedy that had the biggest effect on Vonnegut's life was when he served in WWII and was a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany. He was held in a meat locker under a slaughterhouse in Dresden and on February 13 and 14, 1944, when the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force carried out heavy raids there. Approximately 135,000 people were killed. Vonnegut was among the few people to survive the total destruction of the raid. (Allen, p.2) As Vonnegut said, "I was present in the greatest massacre of European history, which...

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