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Relationships And Interdependence In The Works Of Kurt Vonnegut

3036 words - 12 pages

Relationships and Interdependence in the Works of Kurt Vonnegut

While on the surface Kurt Vonnegut's works appear to
singularly contain the pessimistic views of an aging, black
humorist, his underlying meanings reveal a much more
sympathetic and hopeful glimpse of humanity that lends
itself to eventual societal improvement. As part of
Vonnegut's strategy for enhanced communal welfare, the
satirist details in the course of his works potential
artificial family groups to connect the masses and alleviate
the lonely. Through his science fiction tales of
misinterpreted, downcast protagonists and outrageous
observations of real life, Vonnegut shines a light on
America's problems, proposing a widespread cooperation of
common decency and interdependence as viable solutions.
Whether or not such notions actually augment the quality of
relations, Vonnegut's well-reasoned and starkly ironic
scenarios entertain, challenge, and enliven his design for
relational welfare through synthetic families. Throughout
his works Vonnegut's development of artificial families and
expression of common decency between characters helps
illuminate his universal theme of societal interdependence
in family groups and proves that life is only worth living
when individuals support each other.

Throughout his writings, Vonnegut illustrates man's
necessity of family, whether hereditary or artificial, as
a vital contribution to his survival and healthy intercourse
with society. All relatives, be they naturally procured or
synthetically acquired, possess the unique ability, and
responsibility, to support, contribute to, and inspire his
fellow man, which in turn ultimately appeals to the
betterment of humankind. As the author illustrates in
Timequake, as diverse as individuals may be, so
proportionately diverse must families be also; a family is
not and family values do not entirely consist of a man, his
wife, and their kids fighting against "economic and
technological and ecological and political chaos" (202) in
a Midwest suburban community. Family is where it can be
found. And in spite of any character differences, "it [is]
natural, and therefore almost inevitable" (Slapstick 57) for
individuals to congregate in extended families. In many
cases these families form spontaneously as a result of the
freemasonry shared between persons of similar interest, as
in the companionship one doctor finds with another. Because
common threads, such as profession, tie compellingly
dissimilar persons together, it is possible "to belong to
artificial extended families" (5) claiming members
worldwide. In revealing this particular aspect of
companionship, George Kraft and Howard W. Campbell, Jr. in
Mother Night kindle a friendship...

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